Social media outcry over assault on referee by footballer sparks calls for action |17 November 2023
The Seychelles football community has been left reeling after a shocking incident involving a referee and a player during a match between Foresters FC and La Passe FC at Stade Amitié on Praslin.
The referee, James Emile, was physically assaulted by La Passe’s goalkeeper Basil Esther on Saturday, after he handed the player two yellow cards which equate to a red card.
Subsequent to this incident, a group of referees gathered in protest at Stad Popiler on Tuesday, demanding that action be taken immediately by the Seychelles Football Federation (SFF) as they are disappointed towards the federation for not doing enough to protect them and ensure their safety.
Both occurrences have sparked heated debates on social media, with many calling for severe punishment for the player, including a lifetime ban and financial penalties. Others have even called for stringent measures to be taken against the player, including to press charges and open a legal case against the player for his unacceptable behaviour. Some have also criticised the SFF for not taking adequate measures to protect match officials and have urged the SFF to impose a 15-game suspension and levying fines on the football club.
“This kind of behaviour is unacceptable and should be met with severe punishment,” wrote one user on Facebook. “The player should be banned for life and the club should face financial penalties.”
However, another user countered that referees in general should also be fair in their judgements. “While this time the player’s behaviour was unacceptable, other times referees also need to take responsibility for their actions,” the user wrote. “Sometimes referees should handle situations more professionally and not escalate matters.”
“Instead of maintaining coolness and order among players, some referees choose to instigate violence with players,” the user continues.
Furthermore, some voices on social media have advocated for referees to boycott matches until the federation takes concrete action to address the assault on Emile and other referees in the past. This demonstration of solidarity underscores the gravity of the situation and emphasises the need for swift and resolute measures to uphold the integrity and safety of referees in football matches.
The SFF has since given a statement condemning the incident, promising appropriate actions have been taken to investigate the incident. “The federation deplores all undisciplined actions that occur in football…for the specific incidence, the player is automatically suspended from playing due to the red card, but the federation will write him formally to let him know that he will not be able to play any football match until the disciplinary committee comes up with a decision in this case,” the CEO of SFF, Denis Rose, said.
The incident has also sparked a wider discussion about the treatment of match officials in Seychelles football. Many have pointed out that referees are often subjected to verbal abuse and intimidation during matches, and that the SFF needs to do more to protect them.
The widespread reaction on social media serves as a powerful testament to the significance of addressing misconduct within sports and ensuring that referees are protected from such reprehensible behaviour. As the public outcry continues to reverberate across social platforms, it amplifies the urgency for authorities to respond decisively and uphold the principles of fair play and respect within football.