Football Association of Ireland condemns threatening behaviour towards match referees

The incident took place during a match in the Kildare and District Underage League
The Football Association of Ireland says it has not received any official report about the incident

An Irish referee says he is ending his career after he was physically and verbally threatened during an Under-13 league game on Saturday.

Harry McCann abandoned the match in the Kildare and District Underage League when he was confronted by a member of management from one of the teams.

The 20-year-old student told RTE that he felt "a bit shook" by the incident.

The Football Association of Ireland says it condemns any violence against any of their match officials.

McCann took the decision to abandon the game outside Newbridge in County Kildare after he had repeatedly asked the team official to leave the pitch.

"He took a step forward and went to strike me with his arm," McCann said.

"He didn't actually try to hit me, it was more to say, 'I'm bigger than you, I'm stronger than you' and then said, 'what are you going to do about it?

"I blew my whistle, picked up my stuff and left. I was a bit shook by it."

'There seems to be a lot of anger around the game'

Seven months ago referee Daniel Sweeney was hospitalised with a broken jaw after he was attacked following a Combined Counties League match in County Offaly and McCann has noted that it has become progressively more difficult to referee games in recent years and says he was also threatened in a similar post-match incident two months ago.

"There seems to be a certain acceptance around it now. There are some great clubs, managers and individuals, but unfortunately there are too many who are the opposite and making the game horrible for everyone," he added.

"There are far too many people out there who seem to be incredibly angry and incredibly violent. There seems to be an awful lot of anger around the game at the moment."

The FAI says it is aware of the media reports but has not received any official report from McCann about either incident he was involved in.

The Association says it has a zero tolerance policy in relation to any threats made against match officials.

The statement added: "The FAI condemns any threat of violence against a referee and will take action against anyone found guilty of any behaviour that threatens a referee, verbally or physically.

"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."