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'Today I had a manager attempt to strike me' - Young referee quits and hits out at FAI


Harry McCann

Harry McCann

Harry McCann

A young referee has quit the game following a series of incidents and has accused the Football Association of Ireland of not doing enough to protect officials.

Harry McCann, 20, has been an official for nearly five years and previously highlighted the "toxic" abuse he and other referees consistently suffer.

In an interview with Independent.ie back in April, McCann called on the FAI to do more after revealing he was threatened with violence during a schoolboy game.

Now McCann has decided enough is enough.

"Today I had a manager attempt to strike me while refereeing," he said.

"After four years of abuse and violent threats, I have to decided to call it quits. The FAI do not care about the safety and wellbeing of referees, and I no longer feel safe being involved in the game."

Last November, three Mullingar Town players were banned from all football activity for 40 years each in the aftermath of the assault on referee Daniel Sweeney.

Sweeney was hospitalised and treated for head injuries after being assaulted at the end of a game between Horseleap United and Mullingar Town.

McCann added that he is stepping aside before he too ends up being hospitalised and cited the IRFU as one sporting body who have successfully addressed the issue.

"After years of reports and complaints going ignored and unresponded too, I have lost confidence in the local leagues and the FAI," added McCann.

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"There seems to be no plan or strategy in place to deal with abusive parents and managers, and this is destroying the game at all levels.

"The IRFU and other sporting bodies hjave enforced zero tolerance policies on sidelines successfully, and this helps to protect match officials and players. The FAI have been unable to do this, and this has slowly ruined the game.

"The lack of action being taken against abusive parents and managers is putting refereed at serious risk. There have been far too many referees assaulted in recent months, and I'm not going to wait around to be another name on the list of referees who have ended up in hospital."

The FAI have relased a statement condemning the treatment of match officials, and said they would 'welcome' contact from McCann.

"The FAI condemns any threat of violence against a referee and will take action against anyone found guilty of any behavior that threatens a referee, verbally or physically," the association said.

"To date, the FAI has received no report from the referee in question in relation to this incident or any previous incident. In such instances, the referee is instructed to report any incident to his own League and, under new rules introduced following a serious assault on an official last year, the League is obliged to forward any report of an assault on a referee directly to the FAI’s Disciplinary Control Unit.

"No such report has been received as yet from the Kildare and District Underage League in relation to the alleged incident at the weekend.

"The FAI would welcome direct contact from the referee involved and will be contacting the Kildare and District Underage League directly in relation to this alleged threat.

"The FAI would like to reassure this referee and all referees that a zero tolerance policy is in effect in relation to any threats against match officials."

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