Respect. That’s the message youngsters are told when they take part in any sport while they’re growing up. So why does that sometimes seem to disappear as we get older?
A referee from Southwater is calling on players and fans to take responsibilty for their actions after receiving vile personal abuse whilst officiating a game in Sussex.
Andrew Guy was taking charge of a football match towards the end of last season when he was subject to the ‘worst abuse he has ever come across’.
The 50-year-old has been officiating games at a high level for 25 years and made a decision in the match which split the opinions of both sets of players and fans.
He said he then received the usual mouthing-off from those on the pitch but a spectator then hurled abuse at him not only insulting himself but also his wife - who died of cancer seven years ago.
Andrew said: “This is the worst (abuse) I have come across. I have been a widower now for seven years and it’s hard enough bringing up two children on your own and then to have that thrown in your face.
“Most people are fine, people get annoyed, people get over excited and that’s not a problem but there are a small number of people that are just vile.”
Andrew said the abuse was so horrific he was forced to give up refereeing for the next five weeks as he wasn’t in the right frame of mind to continue.
“It’s something I like doing,” he said. “Stuff like this happens a lot but nobody says anything about it.”
The incident was reported to the FA to investigate.
However, Andrew said he wanted individuals to be held accountable for their actions and to be ‘called out’ for their abuse to try and stamp it out of the game.
“It’s wrong to abuse anybody,” he said. “I find it shocking that referees are abused.
“I want people to feel safe at their work, at their hobby. I want children who are thinking of playing football or officiating in football in particular not to be put off by thugs who think they can abuse their way through life.
“People need to take responsibility for their actions. Out in the street you don’t do that so why once you get to a football match do you have carte blanche to go and say whatever you want.
“If you are going to be an abuser you need to be shown out to be an abuser.”