Devonshire Rec president condemns abuse of officials
Devonshire Recreation Club have vowed to crack down on those responsible for abusing a visiting referee during their Premier Division match against Devonshire Colts at the weekend.
Jamaican Steffon Dewar was subjected to abuse from Cougars’ players and fans as he made his way off the field after the final whistle, in the wake of issuing red cards in the second half to Drewonde Bascome and Lejuan Simmons.
Bermuda forward Simmons received his red card at the end of the game for using foul and abusive language towards the referee as he questioned his booking in the first minute of stoppage time for kicking the ball away after being adjudged to be offside.
He then had to be restrained by team-mates during his protests after the final whistle.
The officials had to be held behind by security while the crowd cleared and they also had liquids poured on them from the upper balcony as they made their way to their dressing room.
Mark Steede, the club’s president, has condemned the behaviour and vowed to impose disciplinary sanctions upon those responsible for subjecting the referee to such abuse.
“We, the committee of management of Devonshire Recreation Club, do not support nor condone the events that happened Saturday night at our home game against Devonshire Colts,” he said. “We will be handing out disciplinary sanctions accordingly to the parties involved.
“Going forward we will continue to do our best to respect the game of football, and make sure our grounds are safe for officials, players, spectators and our members.”
In the wake of last Saturday’s incident, the decision was taken by the Bermuda Referees Association to withdraw the service of match officials, a move that impacted two matches in both the Premier Division and First Division the next day.
An e-mail sent out by the Bermuda Football Association confirmed that the matches had been postponed. Neither body has responded to requests for comment.
Meanwhile, BRA co-founder and former BFA president Charlie Marshall has also condemned the unruly behaviour and called for tough disciplinary action to be imposed on those involved in the incident.
“Any type of abuse to officials is only a detriment to the sport,” he said. “I hope and I know the BFA will clamp down hard, I hope that the clubs also clamp down hard and people like that get fired from all clubs.
“Not just the one where it happened at, but all clubs because we already have a vast shortage of referees.
“Even during my time we’ve always been short of referees and it’s always been because of the abuse that they have to take. Some people can do it and some people can’t.
“If the report is right, one of those chaps has been in trouble before with a local referee, so obviously whoever he may be, needs to be helped to get rid of that nature of hostility.
“I just hope the authorities clamp down extremely hard on them and the clubs. The clubs have got to do something about it too. Those players represent that club.”
Marshall said it was very unfortunate the visiting referee had to be subjected to such abuse.
“It’s rather very unfortunate and I really feel sorry particularly for the referee who came here to our island and certainly didn’t want to be subjected to this type of abuse,” he added.
“I certainly wouldn’t want, and I’m sure even the people that were involved in this, wouldn’t want our officials to go to some country as a guest and be assaulted like that. That’s totally unacceptable.”
Marshall said he was disappointed by the incident.
“I was very, very disheartened because being a referee, especially in Bermuda where you know everybody and everybody knows you,” he added.
“It’s very disheartening and I know because I’ve been punched, spat at or someone is threatening to blow your house up; all that foolishness.
“People say things in the spur of the moment and get all emotional. But that’s why refereeing is rather unique because it’s the emotions of people. One minute they are way up high and all happy and the next minute they are way down.
“Some people let their temperaments get the better of them unfortunately and then they take it out on the first person, and normally it’s the referee.”
Marshall said this is not the first time officials have withdrawn their services because of abuse.
“We went through all of this in the Seventies, I think it was, when some of our referees were assaulted and we had to withdraw our services then,” he said. “So it’s not the first time it’s happened, for sure.”