Sunday 15 September 2019

Three players banned for 40 years after 'unprovoked' attack on ref

'Feeling sore': Daniel Sweeney was hospitalised after the referee was assaulted in a car park after a match
'Feeling sore': Daniel Sweeney was hospitalised after the referee was assaulted in a car park after a match
Robin Schiller

Robin Schiller

Gardai investigating the vicious assault of a referee have yet to make any arrests as bans of 40 years each have been given to three soccer players suspected of involvement.

They were given penalties totalling 120 years for their involvement in the attack, while a fourth man had an existing lifetime playing ban extended to include all football related activity.

Referee Daniel Sweeney was hospitalised following the attack by three Mullingar Town players in a car park after their away match with Horseleap in Co Offaly.

A garda spokesman last night said that no arrests had yet been made in relation to the assault and investigations were ongoing.

Yesterday, the Combined Counties Football League (CCFL) announced the bans from all football activity for 40 years each.

A fourth man was a spectator at the match having previously received a life-time playing ban.

In a statement, the CCFL said that Mullingar Town must have three match officials in attendance at all remaining games this season.

The club must also appoint an independent liaison officer to assist match officials at home and away games, and were fined €500.

This was handed down because the club failed to control its players and supporters. The fine will be passed on to the Daniel Sweeney recovery fund.

The CCFL went on to describe the assault of Mr Sweeney as "unprovoked, unwarranted and unjustifiable" and that the level of violence was "unprecedented".

The 50-year-old suffered serious injuries to his jaw, cheekbone and nose.

In the aftermath of the incident, Mr Sweeney said he questioned whether he should continue refereeing.

"I'm feeling sore, to be honest.

"I'm feeling sore where I have my injuries. But look, I'm getting on with it," he said, in a video message recorded after the incident.

Protected

"It certainly makes you question should I be refereeing when you feel you're not properly protected.

"So it makes you question whether refereeing is for you," he said in the recorded video message.

He also said he was brought up as a man of faith and holds no grudge towards those who attacked him.

Earlier this week, Mullingar Town apologised to Mr Sweeney over the incident and said that it did not "condone or promote the actions that occurred".

Following a meeting between FAI officials and the Irish Soccer Referee's Society, tougher sanctions are to be introduced relating to assaults on match officials.

Irish Independent

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