Garda investigation after referee allegedly received ‘verbal abuse and threats to his safety and life’ at Cork youths match

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Dylan O'

Gardai in Cork are investigating a public order incident at a youths football match that occurred at Ballea Park, the home of Carrigaline United, last weekend.

A statement from the Garda press office read: “Gardaí are investigating a public order incident that occurred on the 25th of February 2023 on the Ballea Road, Carrigaline, Co Cork.”

In response to the alleged incident, referees in Cork have been instructed by the local branch of the Irish Soccer Referees Society not to cover games involving the football club in question.

They released an open letter to all members on Thursday evening that said a match official was subjected to verbal abuse and threats to their safety, a situation that led to them taking shelter in a locked dressing room.

As a result, they have instructed members not to cover matches at Ballea Park involving Carrigaline United, regardless of the competition.

Their statement said: "We are writing to you following a recent serious incident that occurred in Ballea Park, Carrigaline on Saturday night 25th February 2023, while one of our colleagues was officiating a Youth match.

“Without going into too much detail, due to ongoing investigations by the appropriate bodies including the Cork Youth League, we feel we have to act immediately in the best interests of all our members.

“Our colleague, in the performance of this role of officiating the match, was subjected to criticism, verbal abuse and threats to his safety and life by spectators, players and coaching staff which resulted in the abandonment the match and the referee running to seek refuge in the changing room behind a locked door.

“Since this incident we have met as a committee and we are aware the Cork Youth League have met to discuss it. No contact has been received from Carrigaline United since to discuss it or to inquire about the wellbeing of our colleague who had to endure this intolerable treatment.

“We feel we have to act immediately to protect the wellbeing and safety of our members from any and all future incidents, and also to put all other clubs on notice that this treatment and abuse match officials (at all age groups in all levels of grassroots football) by players, coaches, officials and spectators is totally unacceptable.

“As a result, we have decided to issue a directive to our members in all leagues in Cork.

All members of the ISRS Cork Branch are NOT to officiate Carrigaline United matches at Ballea Park, in all leagues and competitions until FURTHER NOTICE.”

Cork Youth Leagues, the FAI, and Carrigaline United have been contacted for a response to this alleged incident.

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