Punched referee shocked as on-field attacker given police caution

By Frank KeoghBBC Sport
A referee was punched in the face by a player he had sent off in a friendly match

A referee who was punched in the face during an amateur match says he is shocked and disappointed after his attacker was given a police caution.

Satyam Toki, 28, was left bleeding after being hit by a footballer he had sent off for foul language at a game in Acton, Ealing, on 9 August.

But the player received just a warning from police after being given a 10-year ban by the local football association.

Toki says it sends out the wrong message about protecting officials.

Police say they issued the caution after careful consideration, but Toki believes there is an element of racial discrimination to the decision as attacks on white officials have led to assault charges and court proceedings.

"This was an unprovoked attack and I don't really know why the police have come to this decision. I was injured above my eye and my kit was covered in blood," he told BBC Sport.

"I believe they haven't done their job properly. There have been incidents in the past where they have taken individuals to court.

"I didn't want to mention it but it feels like discrimination against me. If something had happened against a white official, would it have been taken more seriously?"

Satyam Toki,
Satyam Toki said referees often did not report assaults for fear of reprisals

The dismissed player aimed three blows at Toki and had to be restrained by others as the match was suspended. Police and ambulance workers attended.

A Metropolitan Police statement said: "Following initial enquiries, no allegations were substantiated.

"The victim subsequently contacted police on Friday, 21 August and confirmed he wished police to pursue the matter.

"An investigation was launched and officers spoke with the victim. A man has since attended a west London police station by appointment for a formal interview; he was not arrested.

"After careful consideration of all the factors he has been offered a police caution. The victim has been kept informed throughout the process."

It is understood the player, who admitted the attack, has no previous convictions.

A police caution, also known as a simple caution, is not a criminal conviction,external-link but could be used as evidence of bad character if the person goes to court for another crime.

The burden of proof in a criminal case is greater than in a Football Association case.

Toki, a train conductor from west London, said he contacted the Met Police on 11 August after initially being asked not to press charges as the player who punched him might lose his job.

The charity Ref Support UK has been liaising with Toki, and its chief executive Martin Cassidy said the case will not help referees who are wary of reporting assaults.

"We believe the decision by the Met Police to caution this player is an irresponsible response to the very serious subject of referee abuse and assaults," said Cassidy.

"The simple caution sends the message that it is acceptable to punch a match official three times.

"The decision by London FA to proceed with the discipline process when they did not have to, allowed the Met Police to mitigate the 10-year ban the player received to justify their decision to caution."

Cassidy said he asked FA referees' chief David Elleray three years ago to push for match officials to be designated as a vulnerable role, which would offer extra legal protection and make this case a chargeable offence irrespective of any mitigation.

"We believe nothing will change until a match official is murdered and if that does happen, like it has in other countries, we will remind the FA of the opportunities they had to protect referees more and failed to do so. This is one of the opportunities," he added.

A London FA statement said it takes any assault on a referee extremely seriously and a 10-year ban was given as the offence was "worthy of a high-rated sanction".

It added: "This incident was investigated, charged and heard within the regulatory time frames set out by the FA and the player was under an interim suspension order until the case was heard.

"Given the serious nature of this incident, London FA and the FA arranged for this case to be heard by an independent national serious cases panel."

The footballer who threw the punch has been "completely removed" from his team Sporting Club de Mundial.

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