President of the Irish Soccer Referees Society Paul OBrien has condemned an assault on Mullingar referee Daniel Sweeney, Mr.Sweeney was taken to hospital for treatment as a result of an alleged assault by three players representing Mullingar Town and a fan following an away match against Horseleap.
Speaking to Wicklownews Paul said
“We in the ISRS are shocked and appalled in equal measure with the vicious assault on one of our members after his game on Sunday.
Unfortunately, my colleague suffered a broken jaw, multiple fractures to his cheek bone and a broken eye bone. I want to wish my him a speedy recovery and my thoughts go out to his family as well. I have reassured him that he has the full backing and support of all of us in the ISRS. We whole heartily condemn any violence in our beautiful game, we believe there is no place for violence, intimidation or abuse of any official. Unfortunately, the problem of assaults and abuse are on the increase and we firmly believe that the FAI need to now work with us in the ISRS to ensure we never see a repeat of what happened yesterday.
We are calling on the FAI to work with us and review the sanctions imposed on any player who assaults a referee and to launch a respect and educational campaign. Referees are well educated in the laws of the game but unfortunately this is not replicated with players and coaches. We also need each the leagues to step up their efforts to protect referees and to demonstrate this commitment by punishing anyone who assaults or abuses a referee in the severest fashion. I look forward to meeting with the FAI on Thursday so that I convey to them how strongly I feel about the matter.
The fact is there is a chronic shortage of referees in the country and anyone interested in refereeing would be turned off completely on viewing the image of our assaulted member. The simple fact is that without referees there would be no game, so we as referees feel we should be viewed as a resource and not a necessary evil. Then in turn we should be given the protection and respect we deserve, so that we can enjoy our hobby in safe environment.
Finally, I am going to contact the GAA & Rugby referees and invite them to a meeting to discuss the issues facing us as referees.”