BFA breaks silence on football violence as referees agree to return
Referees are expected back on the job on Saturday, as the Bermuda Football Association says it is preparing a report for its independent disciplinary committee in the wake of an incident after Saturday night’s Premier Division match between Devonshire Cougars and Devonshire Colts when a visiting official was abused by players and spectators.
Four days after Jamaican Steffon Dewar was assaulted by unruly players and fans at Devonshire Recreation Club, the BFA finally broke its silence on the matter, calling on members of the football fraternity to commit to tackling the issue of violence at football matches.
“The BFA also wishes to make it abundantly clear that it abhors the behaviour displayed that resulted in football coming to a temporary halt,” it said in a statement yesterday.
“The reports of the incidents are being collated and the file prepared for submission to the BFA’s independent disciplinary committee to consider sanctions for any breaches and offences committed.”
Dewar sent off Cougars players Drewonde Bascome and Lejuan Simmons, drawing the ire of fans. Simmons was shown a yellow card for kicking the ball away after being flagged for offside, and saw red for using foul and abusive language in protest.
The player had to be restrained after the final whistle, with Dewar and the other officials reportedly having to be escorted out of the venue by security personnel — but not before some spectators doused the officials with drinks as they made their way to their dressing room.
The incident saw match officials immediately withdrawing their services, resulting in the postponement of Sunday’s Premier Division and First Division fixtures, as well as matches in the FA Cup, Friendship Trophy and Shield in midweek.
BFA and BRA executives met on Tuesday night to find a solution to the impasse.
“The meeting addressed misunderstandings regarding roles and responsibilities of clubs, referees, disciplinary procedures, match day operations, and the overall position of the BFA regarding antisocial behaviour among players and fans,” the BFA said.
“There was unanimous agreement that we must continue tackling those elements that negatively impact football and we call upon the football family to play their role in safeguarding football as we move closer to the end of the season.
Present at the meeting for the BFA were Mark Wade, the president, Shannon Burgess, the first vice-president and chairman of the competitions committee, Crenstant Williams, the second vice-president and chairman of the referees committee, and David Sabir, the general secretary.
Representing the referees were president Lloyd Christopher, vice-president Dwight Jackson and Zayna Foggo, the treasurer.
After the meeting, the BRA representatives called an emergency meeting of their members where it was decided that they would resume officiating this Saturday.
The BFA called on clubs to ensure full compliance where matchday protocols are concerned and demanded that fans and players recognise their role in safeguarding the future of the sport.
It added: “The incident at the Devonshire Recreation Club highlighted that we can’t lessen our resolve against activities that undermine the significance of football to many people throughout our community. Clubs are reminded of their duty to protect their environments and to ensure that matchday protocols are adhered to.
“Spectators are reminded that they have a role to play in preserving community integrity and to respect one another, as football matches are not the place to demonstrate bad behaviour.
“Players are reminded to exhibit fair play and respect the Laws of the Game. Referees have a duty to administer the Laws of the Game. If everyone played their part, then the football season can continue and come to a successful completion without any further interruptions.”
Last night’s Friendship and Shield quarter-final matches at Goose Gosling Field, between Boulevard and Paget and Dandy Town and St George’s were called off.
Same for the remaining midweek fixtures, which would have seen Somerset Trojans playing Hamilton Parish at Somerset tonight in an FA Cup tie, and tomorrow’s league encounter at Devonshire Rec between Devonshire Cougars and PHC.
Changes to this weekend’s fixtures will see the First Division match between St David’s and Wolves, which was scheduled for Sunday, moved to Saturday, at Lord’s at 3pm.
The First Division match between Vasco and Paget, scheduled for Saturday, has been switched to Sunday, at 12.30 at Southampton Oval.
Sunday’s Premier Division match between North Village and Robin Hood has been brought forward to Saturday at Bernard Park starting at 3pm.
Finally, despite there being no resolution from the events of the previous Saturday night at Devonshire Rec, the governing body tempts fate by scheduling the game of the week under lights at the same venue with possibly the same fans — second-placed Devonshire Cougars hosting third-placed PHC on Sunday at 6pm.