STEVE MACKNEY
STEVE MACKNEY

Allegations of abuse end game

ALLEGED crowd abuse of a linesman has prompted a referee to abandon a Far North Coast women's premier league soccer fixture.

Referee Graham Cook took the action 41 minutes into the game between Thistles and Alstonville at John Ryan Field - Thistles' home ground at East Lismore - on Wednesday night.

Alstonville led 3-0 at the time.

Football Far North Coast general manager Steve Mackney said the referee claimed that the linesman - who is called an assistant referee in soccer - had twice raised his flag to indicate he was being abused by some spectators.

After it was first reported, Cook directed the Thistles ground official on duty to patrol the area in question.

"He also approached both coaches, advised them what was happening and that if there were any further incidents the fixture would be abandoned," Mackney said yesterday.

"When reported by the assistant referee a second time, the referee abandoned the fixture."

Mackney said it was the first time he knew of a FNC competition game being abandoned due to abuseof referees.

"There have been cases over the years where people with a whistle in non-competition games have had enough and walked off," he said.

"But I'm not aware of a senior competition fixture having been abandoned.

"It is the unfortunate consequence of a growing level of abuse, albeit that the allegations have been strongly refuted."

The result had been recorded as a forfeit by Thistles "on the basis that on the balance of evidence they (the home club) has the primary responsibility to manage spectator behaviour".

Mackney indicated that there would be no further action against the club and that the forfeit was sufficient penalty.

Thistles president Paul Albertini said the club had not been told what is alleged to have been said, only that the assistant referee had told the referee that he, the assistant ref, had been verbally abused by people on the sideline.

"We're perplexed because from the time the ground official was first informed, he was in the area where the abuse is supposed to have been coming from and nothing was said," Albertini said.

"We're not privy to any report the referee submits.

"It's a system where in essence what the referee says goes.

"You can't defend yourself because you don't know what's been alleged - that's the annoying thing."

Cook has refereed FNC first-grade rugby union for many years and in recent winters has also turned his hand to soccer.



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