Wednesday 1 March 2017

Referee's attacker could face lifetime ban from soccer

John Fallon and Adam Cullen

Bruises suffered by referee Roy Kavanagh
Bruises suffered by referee Roy Kavanagh

A man who allegedly delivered a flurry of frenzied punches and kicks to a young referee during an under-age soccer match is facing a lifetime ban from the sport.

An under-15 game in Tallaght had to be abandoned shortly after 2pm on Saturday after the shocking events unfolded during a Dublin District Schoolboy's League (DDSL) fixture.

Roy Kavanagh (22) - who officiates every weekend in the biggest league in the country - posted graphic photos online of injuries he suffered during the alleged attack.

According to the victim, he was repeatedly kicked in the stomach, chest and legs while in charge of the game.

"I can't believe he attacked me for no reason at a schoolboy U-15 match that a bunch of 14-year-olds were playing in," he said.

"I never once hit or tried to hit back and still he kept kicking me."

It's understood that the respected referee, who hails from Palmerstown, Dublin, was forced to flee to the dressing room to escape the onslaught of violence.

"Starting to bruise out this morning," wrote Mr Kavanagh, a member of the Irish Soccer Referee's Society (ISRS), in a Facebook message.

"It's sore, I have to say. My hand is swollen out from trying to block his kicks and my stomach is really sore.

"I'm shaken by it - there is no point in saying I'm not."

An ISRS spokesperson said they condemned the attack and stressed that it was one of the worst instances of abuse ever suffered by one of their members.

"Abuse is not uncommon for our members, but the severity of this abuse thankfully is.

"Once or twice a year, we hear of extreme physical assaults but this is one of the worst we have come across," the spokesman said.

He added that the group could not comment further until investigations by the DDSL, the FAI and An Garda Síochána had been completed.

A garda spokesperson said they were investing the circumstances surrounding the incident.

The FAI also said that they were fully investigating the alleged events.

DDSL chairperson Paddy Dempsey told the Irish Independent that a hearing was due to take place on Thursday.

"We fully condemn any kind of assault on any person, let alone a referee officiating over a game, he said.

"The alleged assault will be taken very seriously, and investigations surrounding it will begin on Thursday," he added.

The alleged attacker is thought to be on the management team of one of the clubs involved in the game.

A club spokesperson said last night that a meeting was taking place to determine the individual's future.

Despite his ordeal, Mr Kavanagh refused to allow it to disrupt his schedule of refereeing more under-age games on Sunday.

Mr Kavanagh has received an array of supportive messages from his referee colleagues, echoing his wish that justice be served in a fair and timely manner.

He admitted this type of incident, not uncommon over the years at amateur level in Ireland, dissuades prospective members from taking up the thankless task.

"All I do is referee because I have passion for the game and this is my only way of being involved in it," said the victim in a passionate address.

Irish Independent

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