Attack on our Turkish Colleague.

Unfortunately, this incident in Turkey involving Referee Halil Umut Meler does not shock me one bit.

I receive reports of similar or worse incidents like this every single week of the season. The only difference here, is that there were more cameras capturing this incident and it was live on national TV.

Only yesterday, a 14-year-old referee called me on our hotline asking for support and advice because he has been called to appear at a FA discipline hearing after he abandoned a game due to him receiving threats and abuse from an adult.
He was also wearing the yellow arm band to identify him as a minor during this game and this did not prevent this verbal abuse of a child.

Referees all over the World have, for far too long, been viewed as fair game no matter what age the referee is. Referees are an endangered species due to abuse, threats and assaults.

Over the past weekend we received reports of child referees being threatened and verbally abused, games being abandoned due to abuse and violence towards match officials at under 13’s game. This is the tip of the iceberg as many referees are not aware of the work we do.

The desensitisation of ref abuse has been left to fester for far too long and an incidents like this, live on TV, is just around the corner in top flight football in the UK unless we have a huge change in attitude and culture towards match officials at all levels of the game.

The FA and PGMOL have and are delivering some very impressive and welcome support to referees at all levels however, we need all stakeholders in football to recognise that The FA alone cannot fix this.

Teams should not sign nor keep players who abuse referees, teams should not allow “fans” and parents to spew abuse from the touch line and leagues need more powers to promptly expel teams and players from their leagues who are guilty of abuse and assault match officials.

We hope the referee makes a full recovery both physically and mentally from this terrible incident and welcome the Turkish Football Authorities and the Turkish Police for their robust and prompt response to this terrible incident.

Our Referee help line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year and to receive free independent advice, support and help just call 0300 311 1966.

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Posted in Blog.