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daniel sweeney

Possible lifetime ban to be brought in for people who assault referees

A new tiered system of sanctions is set to be introduced.

NEW SANCTIONS ARE to be put in place for people who attack referees, following an assault at a football match last weekend.

Daniel Sweeney suffered a broken jaw and fractured eye socket when he was attacked after showing a red card during a match in Westmeath on Sunday.

He underwent a five-hour operation yesterday and will spend the next six to eight weeks recovering. 

Officials from the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) and the Irish Soccer Referees Society (ISRS) met at last night’s friendly international between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

Paul O’Brien, president of the ISRS, told RTÉ Radio 1′s Today with Seán O’Rourke he wasn’t due to meet John Delaney until next week but that the FAI chief executive “felt so strongly” about what happened to Sweeney that they met at half time last night. 

O’Brien said he wants stronger sanctions to be put in place for people who assault referees. He said both organisations have agreed in principle to a tiered structure of sanctions. 

O’Brien added that the attack on Sweeney was not a normal occurrence, saying it was “the worst assault I’ve seen”.

“As it stands, anyone that assaults a referee gets a minimum of a one-year suspension,” he said, while the same offence gets a five-year ban in England and a 10-year ban in Scotland. 

He said these models are too simplistic, hence the desire for a tiered system. 

“The more serious the assault the stronger the sanction.” he said.

O’Brien said people who carry out attacks as “vicious” as the one on Sweeney may be banned for life from playing in or attending matches.

A working group has been set up to look into the issue, with a view to reporting back to the FAI in January. 

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