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Ten red cards, officials abused and one match abandoned – is Jersey football in crisis?

Football | Published:

THE Jersey Football Combination Championship match between Sporting Academics and St John was abandoned on Saturday because of violent player behaviour.

A number of referees, one as young as 16, were verbally abused by senior players over the weekend, while one match was abandoned due to an on-field scrap between Sporting Academics and St John

And the referee in charge of that match, JFA Referees’ Committee chairman Mark Le Cornu, an official with decades of experience, has made a heart-felt plea for such behaviour to stop – before it’s too late.

He said yesterday: ‘I can see the time will come when Island officials will say that they are not going to referee certain clubs. There was a lady with a youngster in tears as I walked off on Saturday. Some players don’t release the damage they are doing.’

The official had no choice but to abandon the match after St John officials withdrew their side – 4-0 down at the time – telling him ‘they didn’t feel safe to carry on as they had such a young side’.

The flash-point came in the 68th minute when two players squared up in the middle of the pitch after a tackle, then started throwing punches at each other. The referee described a ‘mass confrontation’, with about a dozen players involved, leading to the action from the St John FC officials to withdraw their team. The two players initially involved were dismissed by referee Le Cornu for violent conduct, Barry Keith of Sporting Academics and PJ Ruderham of St John.

However, serious though it was, it was not just that incident that prompted the referee’s chairman to speak out. He added: ‘There were at least ten red cards this weekend. OK, three were for last-man fouls which are now part of the game, they might not even have been bookings elsewhere on the pitch – but two were for violent conduct and a further five for verbal abuse of referees – one as young as 16. Another referee was abused by a player he had sent off later on in the evening.

‘I dread to think what would have happened if a 16-year-old had been in charge of my match. I’m old enough to handle it, but referees in general are painting a very black picture indeed.

‘If players, managers and spectators don’t think things are very serious then they are mistaken – it is critical.

‘We are already ten referees down this season and if player behaviour does not improve it could get worse.

‘I’ve heard the excuse that it’s about passion. Well no, sorry. We referees don’t turn out so we can get away from the washing and the ironing, we love the game, too. This is getting very serious indeed.’

It is expected that a JFA inquiry will follow Saturday’s incident.

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