On Thursday night, the 175 members of the Dublin branch of the Irish Soccer Referees Society (ISRS), voted unanimously to withdraw services from matches.
On Thursday night, the 175 members of the Dublin branch of the Irish Soccer Referees Society (ISRS), voted unanimously to withdraw services from matches - effectively go on strike - for a spell from November 18th to December 4th.
If implemented, there could be no football played in Dublin that weekend, which would seriously impact the FAI Junior and FAI Intermediate Cups as well as underage leagues, though not all referees at juvenile level are members of the ISRS.
This is the first time that football across Dublin would shut down as a protest by referees, as last year such a move was only taken by the North Dublin Schoolboy/girl League, leading to the cancellation of 500 games in a week, in response to incidents of touchline abuse for match officials.
The Dublin branch of the body expressed their anger at a recent disciplinary decision concerning a game between two Dublin clubs in the Leinster Senior League. In his report the referee claimed he had been assaulted by a player, with a headbutt, an act which can carry a 36-month suspension. The player in question was handed a six-game ban. It's understood that in the case of the alleged assault, video evidence was used but footage of the incident was inconclusive.
There was also a second report of an alleged attempted assault on a referee, where a player had to be restrained by the opposition team's manager. There, a 12-month suspension can be handed down but that player was also banned for six games.
"The Dublin branch have no confidence in the disciplinary procedures of the FAI being implemented, they feel let down," ISRS official Sean Slattery told independent.ie today.
"They have no faith in the system and they feel let down. Referees were led to believe that in the case of an alleged attempted assault there would be a suspension of at least 12 months and 36 months for an alleged assault, and that has not happened."
In response, the FAI today said they "understand" the stance taken by the referees. "The Football Association of Ireland acknowledges and understands the decision taken by the Dublin branch of the Irish Soccer Referees' Society (ISRS) to strike from November 18th," the FAI said in a statement today.
"The FAI has recently discussed the specific matters raised by the Dublin branch with the national representative of the ISRS will now meet with the Dublin branch without delay to discuss their issues, in an effort to resolve this matter ahead of the planned strike The Association again reiterates that all referees must be treated with respect and reminds players, coaches, officials and supporters of their responsibilities in this regard."