Alan Dillon, Deputy Chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport and Media, has written to sporting organisations and invited them before the committee on Wednesday to discuss the issue of abuse against sporting officials.
The former Mayo senior footballer said that the meeting will be an opportunity to hear first-hand accounts of abuse towards referees, officials, stewards, and players and discuss what can be done to combat the “pervasive” problem.
“I believe everyone in sport must commit to respect for referees and officials, as well as opposing teams,” Mr Dillon said.
“Unfortunately, poor treatment of referees and officials is a pervasive problem in sport. While I am aware of some progressive initiatives to date such as the Give Respect – Get Respect awareness campaign in Gaelic games, these efforts need to be stepped-up.”
The meeting comes after referees took a stand against abuse during matches by withdrawing their services for North Dublin Schoolboys/Girls League and Metropolitan Girls League games earlier this month.
The withdrawal was due to “constant abuse and threatening behaviour from managers, players, coaches and supporters.”
Mr Dillon said that the abuse suffered by referees at these matches were “completely unacceptable.”
“Recently soccer referees in the North Dublin Schoolboys/Girls League (NDSL) and Metropolitan Girls League (MGL) withdrew their services due to ‘constant abuse’ and ‘threatening behaviour,’” he said.
“To see the matches for young people cancelled for this reason, particularly when we are trying to encourage greater participation of girls in sport, is completely unacceptable.
“None of us could play the sports we love so much without the participation of referees and officials. They should never feel threatened, scared or face abuse for trying to facilitate and assist in sport, and we must do everything we can to stamp it out,” he added.