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Dublin: 4 °C Tuesday 18 February, 2020

Investigation underway after soccer referee injured during assault at midlands match

Gardaí were called to the incident at a football club in Horseleap, Co Offaly shortly before 1pm yesterday.

Image: Shutterstock/Nattzkamol

A REFEREE HAS been injured after a row broke out during a soccer match in Co Offaly over the weekend. 

Gardaí from Tullamore were called to the scene of the incident at a football club in Horseleap, Co Offaly shortly before 1pm yesterday. RTÉ has reported that the incident happened at a game in the Combined Counties Football League.

Gardaí understand that the referee, a man in his 50s, was physically injured when the disturbance broke out during a match. 

The victim has been named as Daniel Sweeney. 

Sweeney was taken to Tullamore hospital by ambulance for treatment. His injuries are not thought to be life-threatening. 

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, Paul Malone secretary of the referees’ Midlands branch said that Sweeney is heading to St James’ Hospital this morning for further checks.

Discussing how common assaults to referees are, Malone said: “Assault is rare, there have been a few incidents but small incidents that have happened. 

Respect has gone out the window for referees, that’s definitely gone out the window. 

Malone added that referees are an “easy target” and that there are “often incidents where [referees] would be verbally abused after a game”. 

“If a player has a bad game, does he deserve to be insulted or does he deserve to be beat up? No, so that’s the same as a referee,” he said. 

Speaking to RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland, Chris Hand, secretary of the Combined Counties Football League said that the individuals involved in the incident have been identified. 

“They will be immediately suspended from all football activity,” Hand said. 

A referee report will be complete over the coming days and Hand said it will be brought to a disciplinary hearing. 

“We will follow FAI policy and procedure in relation to how we handle incidents like this,” he said.

No arrests have been made to date in relation to the incident and enquiries are ongoing. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact Tullamore Garda Station on 057 932 7600. 

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