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Latest: Calls for sanctions to be reviewed following assault of referee in Offaly

Update 1.45pm: The President of the Irish Soccer Referees’ Society is calling on the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) to review the guidelines for sanctions against those who assault referees following yesterday’s incident in Horseleap.

Paul O’Brien also wants the FAI to kick off a respect and education campaign for the proper behaviour at games.

Referee Daniel Sweeney was attacked after the senior match between Horseleap United and Mullingar Town on Sunday.

His jaw was broken in two places, his eye-socket fractured and he had to get multiple stitches in his nose. It is understood the attack took place in a car park after the game.

Photo: Joe Cassidy

Mr O’Brien told RTE's News at One that the referees’ society was very concerned about the well being of Daniel Sweeney and he had been shocked when he saw the photographs of his injuries on social media.

“There is no justification for assault. We have grave concerns. Most referees want to be invisible.”

He said he was concerned about the growing number of violent incidents. He has been in contact with the FAI and will be having a meeting with the association this week.

I will be calling for a respect and education campaign to kick off. There should be greater respect for referees. It is deserved.

Mr O’Brien also said he would be calling on the FAI to review guidelines in relation to assaults on referees. At present any player that assaults a referee is automatically suspended for one year.

“That is not strong enough, that’s not sending a message.”

Digital Desk

Earlier: Referee hospitalised after being injured during fight at match in Offaly

Update 7.32am: The referee who was assaulted following a soccer game in the midlands yesterday is travelling to St James hospital in Dublin this morning for further treatment for a jaw injury and from there will go on to the Eye and Ear hospital.

Paul Malone, secretary of the Midland branch of the Referee’s Association says that his colleague who was assaulted following the game in the village of Horseleap, on the Offaly-Westmeath border, suffered injuries to his jaw and eye.

"He has a lot of facial injuries. He's in hospital at the moment and he's heading for St James' Hospital this morning to get more checks on his cheekbone and jaws and then he's heading to the Eye and Ear [hospital] for a check on his eye," Mr Malone said.

The referee, identified by Mr Malone as Daniel Sweeney, was refereeing a soccer match between Horseleap and Mullingar Town on Sunday, when he sustained significant injuries, according to gardaí.

Several players and a spectator were involved in the incident, which occurred when row broke out near the end of the game.

Mr Sweeney was taken for treatment to the Midland Regional Hospital in Tullamore, where his condition was described by gardaí as non-life-threatening.

Gardaí said officers were called from Tullamore shortly before 1pm to the scene of a public order incident at a football club in Horseleap.

“This is a very serious matter,” Mr Malone told Newstalk Breakfast.

Respect for referees has “gone out the window” for some time with frequent “small incidents”, although assaults are rare, he said.

“We’re an easy target.

If a player has a bad game does he deserve to be insulted or beaten up? It should be the same for referees.

Mr Malone said that referees are frequently verbally abused after games.

“All you can do is keep your mouth shut and go to your car.”

Incidents of this kind are reported to the league and players can be suspended, he explained.

The Secretary of the Combined Counties Football League (CCFL) Chris Hand says there is no room for violence in sport.

He told RTE’s Morning Ireland that the individuals involved in the assault of referee Daniel Sweeney have been identified, suspended and will be subject to a disciplinary hearing.

“This will be followed up with the strongest possible action.

“We depend on volunteers. There are 40 games every weekend across the midlands, hundreds across the country. We couldn’t have football matches without volunteers.

“It was shocking to hear the reports from yesterday.

“What happened transcends sport. It is now a big problem in society in general.”

Mr Hand said that the CCFL will be cooperating fully with Gardaí. “They will follow up and we will support them.

“We want to prevent this type of incident happening. We don’t want to see this happening any time.”

Anybody with information is asked to contact Tullamore Garda Station.

Digital Desk