ISRS Cork Branch Statement Regarding Abuse of Match Officials and Inappropriate Conduct at Matches
Following a specially convened meeting of the Committee regarding an incredibly serious incident involving one of our members, we are pursuing all avenues open to us. We need to be very careful in what we say and do at this time as we will not compromise any case that may or may not arise from this incident.
We have been in contact with the referee in question and thankfully even though he was extremely shaken by this incident, he is determined to continue his refereeing career. We would like to express our gratitude to the senior members who assisted the referee on the night in question and continue to do so in regard to this incident.
Unfortunately, incidents like this happen too frequently (once is once too may), but we are here to look after the best interests of our members and will support our members to the fullest extent possible. While we are unable to state names or clubs for obvious reasons, we wish to reassure all members that we are dealing with this incident with every resource available to us including seeking legal advice.
Since the resumption of sport at local level on June 7th 2021, our members have been subjected to abuse and threats of physical violence and harm at matches from both team officials and spectators at all levels of local football. This is totally unacceptable. We cannot and will not tolerate the continued abuse, threats, intimidation, and assaults perpetrated by people against referees.
There is a severe shortage of referees at grassroots level nationwide and an ever-increasing age profile of referee’s is undoubtedly going to lead to a deterioration of this situation in the future. Recruitment and retention of referees, particularly younger referees, has become a huge problem and this is directly related to the current treatment of match officials at games.
One of our primary functions is the protection of the wellbeing of our members. Should the current trend of abuse, threats and acts of intimidation and violence continue at any level of football, the ISRS Cork Branch will have no other option but to consider further action to safeguard our members as appropriate which may include the withdrawal of our members staffing games at all levels of grassroots football.
With regard to recent specific incidents, the Cork Branch of the ISRS will refrain from commenting on these situations while the appropriate authorities conduct their investigations. Upon the conclusion of these investigations, the Cork Branch will assess the outcome and its impact on our members before considering all other options available to us. Any further action that may be taken will be with the best interests and safeguarding of our members at its core.
We will continue to offer whatever support we can to the referee in question and indeed the same applies to all our members. We will keep our members up to date as much as possible as long as our actions do not compromise any ongoing case that may or may not arise from this incident.
We are instructing all members to be mindful of commenting on incidents such as this, especially in public forums or with affiliated bodies or media representatives. Should any of you be contacted for comment on this incident or indeed any other incident relating to refereeing matters, please refrain from commenting and direct the query to any member of the Committee.
Thank you for your understanding and support in this matter.
Yours in Sport,
Committee of the Cork Branch of the Irish Soccer Referee’s Society
July 16th 2021