Sunday 20 October 2019

Referees defend stance

'Our personal safety should be paramount'

The Wicklow branch of the ISRS have defended their refusal to officiate at games involving Rathnew adult teams in the WDFL citing personal safety concerns as the main reason for their course of action following the reinstatement of Rathnew into the WDFL by the LFA.

Last Friday night's Wicklow Cup clash between St Peter's and Rathnew had to be called off due to no referees being available to take charge of the fixture.

Rathnew have played some games since their reinstatement but only under referees from outside the WDFL jurisdiction.

This week, the Wicklow referees have made their position clear to the Wicklow People where they outline their fears for their personal safety.

They also state that a specially drafted document created after a meeting between the referees, the FAI and the WDFL has yet to be signed by Rathnew.

"Having received word that Rathnew had been readmitted to the league after they successfully appealed their expulsion by the WDFL, our members were concerned about their personal safety given the amount of incidents involving Rathnew over the years,' it reads.

The statement from the Wicklow referees then goes on to state that after what they perceived to be 'numerous threats and acts of abuse' against their members, 'it was decided at a branch meeting not to officiate any Rathnew games until further assurances were given. Having concluded a meeting with representatives of the FAI and WDFL a document was produced for Rathnew to sign,' it reads.

As of Wednesday, no document had been signed by the Rathnew club.

'We would like to remind everyone that this is our hobby. Our personal safety should be paramount, and we should be able to enjoy what we do without fear of attack or being abused. False reporting on social media and blaming individuals on this is not acceptable. This was a collective decision and not made by one or two individuals.

'This situation can be easily resolved. If Rathnew were to give assurances that they will conduct themselves in a proper manner, then our members stand ready to officiate their matches.

'We hope that they agree to respecting referees and that we can all get on with what we love doing,' read the statement.

When contacted by the Wicklow People, Rathnew AFC Chairman John Snell said he had no comment to make.

WDFL Chairman Michael Conlon said he was not prepared to make any statement at this stage.

Wicklow People