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Island referees quit summer league over 'abuse and intimidation'

Officials in the Lewis and Harris League have refused to referee matches after verbal attacks from spectators.

Hebridean football referees quit Lewis and Harris summer league over ‘abuse and intimidation’ from fans IStock/SNS
Hebrides: Referees have quit due to the amount of abuse they have suffered.

Football referees in the Hebrides have refused to officiate matches in a summer league due to the level of “abuse and intimidation” that they are receiving from supporters.

Members of the Lewis and Harris Football Association revealed on Wednesday that the fixture list for the island’s amateur league has been “revised” due to a number of match officials dropping out of games.

The committee revealed that the action was being taken after the issue of “foul and abusive language” being directed towards referees was raised during a recent meeting.

Posting a statement on social media, the association also revealed the behaviour of spectators was resulting in fans with young children “being forced to leave the ground”.

The statement read: “At a recent meeting of the LHFA the following issues were raised – foul and abusive language by spectators directed at the match official in charge of a LHFA fixture and foul and abusive language by spectators resulting in other spectators with young children forced to leave the ground.

“A match cannot commence without a recognised official yet match officials drop out due to previous abuse and intimidation.

“As a result, the LHFA fixture list has now been revised for the remainder of the season which has meant in some semi-final ties there will only be one official to officiate the game, which is not a satisfactory situation.

“We ask that in particular all spectators along with players and officials of our clubs respect the referees to help ensure the continuing involvement of referees in our league and also hopefully attract new referees.

“This also applies to club linesmen who as a result of the abuse and intimidation are no longer willing to undertake the duties of linesman for their clubs.

“Remember we all make mistakes and as such referees and club linesmen are only human so we should always respect the match officials’ decisions, difficult as it may be especially on the occasions when you think they have made the wrong decisions.

“If it can be proved spectators have used foul and abusive language, they may be asked to leave the ground or even banned from the ground and the club may also be fined as a result of a spectator’s action.”