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Referee quits over racist abuse

Enough is enough: Wyer, who serves as a Major in the Bermuda Regiment, has handed in his resignation as a referee

The Island’s top referee has quit after claiming he was racially abused during a bad-tempered FA Cup quarter-final between Flanagan’s Onions and PHC Zebras.

It is understood that Martin Wyer, who served as a senior officer of the Royal Air Force during the Gulf war, was verbally abused by certain sections of the crowd, during Sunday’s heated game at Goose Gosling Field, which Onions won 2-0.

Immediately after the final whistle Wyer decided enough was enough and told the Bermuda Football Association of his decision.

The Englishman revealed that he walked away from the game last season after a similar incident before being persuaded by colleagues to change his mind.

“I’ve had a couple of e-mails of support from fellow officials but I stand by my decision to quit,” Wyer, a multiple BFA Referee of the Year winner, said.

“It happened to me last year and I was persuaded to come back, but I think it’s a case of once bitten twice shy now. I quit last time because of the abuse I received at a game at Dandy Town [St John’s Field] and some of it was aimed at the colour of my skin, which is totally unacceptable in any walk of life, and as a football referee I am not tolerating any of that.

“A similar incident happened on Sunday, [and] among other levels of abuse [there was] the disrespect of calling my integrity into question and being called a cheat. I don’t cheat and don’t care who wins because it doesn’t matter to me.”

Wyer, who serves as a major with the Bermuda Regiment, said that the abuse he was subjected to was the worst he had experienced as a referee.

“I have been refereeing for many years to a very high level in England and have never come across it before,” said Wyer, a certified UK referee instructor and assessor.

“I have been around football long enough and refereed in front of 2,000 to 3,000 people regularly.

“But when it becomes personal to that extent and the level of disrespect and intolerance shown, I’m sorry, I don’t get paid enough and I don’t give up my free time to be treated like this.

“I give up my spare time, as do other officials, to be fair to them, to try and help football thrive and this is the level of what you get. So I made my comments and feelings known to the BFA and they are investigating from there. I am not going to put myself in that position again. This is now a matter for the BFA to deal with and hopefully they will respond appropriately and deal with it.”

During the match, Wyer booked five players and sent off Robert Bean, the PHC assistant coach, who launched a prolonged and animated outburst at the referee from the bench.

Bean became enraged after Onions’ two-goal hero Nathan Peskett committed a foul on PHC defender Diondre Dowling.

Wyer’s resignation will further deplete the BFA’s chronic shortage of match officials.

David Sabir, the BFA general secretary, said that the association was reviewing the match reports.

“The association will review all aspects of the game based on reports submitted and take the appropriate actions in accordance with established regulations,” Sabir said.