Threat to kill at kids' soccer game

20:51, May 26 2012
David Adams
VERBAL ATTACK: Karori soccer dad David Adams and his 10-year-old son Sam.

Children were left crying and a game was abandoned after a coach of a youth football team allegedly threatened to kill the referee.

The abuse came after a goal was disallowed during an 11th grade game between Island Bay United and Waterside Karori at Sinclair Park, Wellington, on Saturday, May 12.

The incident has prompted an internal club investigation and Capital Football Federation also wants answers after being alerted by The Dominion Post.

The abuse follows high profile onfield incidents which have led to increasing concerns about the welfare of amateur sports officials.

Volunteer referee David Adams said the verbal attack against him was so bad his 10-year-old son Sam ran from the field crying.

Mr Adams confronted the Island Bay United coach and asked him to stop the abuse.


"He was swearing at the time and getting really agitated and I said, `Look I need you to leave the field.'

"He continued to swear and said, 'This is our home field – I'm not leaving.'

"He was about two inches away from my face and said into my ear ... `If we lose this match I'm going to kill you."'

Mr Adams called the game off with five minutes to go because he said he feared for his safety.

Rachel McMaster – who contacted The Dominion Post about the incident – said the Island Bay coach would not allow children from both sides to shake hands at the end of the game.

A complaint was made to Waterside Karori, which spoke to senior officials at Island Bay United. Island Bay United junior club captain Quintan Tahau said yesterday the incident was being investigated internally by the club.

The coach has not been stood down. He denied knowledge of the incident when approached yesterday.

Richard Reid, chief executive of Capital Football Federation, the body governing soccer in Wellington, was unaware of the incident but said it would also investigate.

Mrs McMaster, whose son plays for Waterside Karori, said she heard the threat to Mr Adams and made the complaint.

"I was shocked," she said. "Having that kind of guy around kids is scary."

She believes the Island Bay United coach should be banned.

Mr Adams holds the same view. "Maybe the refereeing calls weren't that great, [but] still there's no reason to have that sort of behaviour towards a volunteer ref who is doing the best they can on the field."

Waterside Karori treasurer Graeme Peters said reports after the incident "made my hair stand on end" and he complained to officials at Island Bay.

Mr Peters said he had not told the federation because the complaint was dealt with quickly and taken "very seriously".

The coach involved was "very apologetic" when spoken to. "He [the coach] said things had escalated out of control. He said that he said things he should not have said."

Mr Tahau said he had not heard that the coach threatened to kill the referee.

"That's not what I understand happened. I do understand there was quite a heated argument."

Parents from both clubs were "facing off" against each other, Mr Tahau said. "We need to send out messages that this type of behaviour is not appropriate."

Mr Reid said he was concerned the federation was not told of the incident by either of the clubs "when clearly they had people who were very upset and taking it very seriously".

"Clearly it [abusing a referee] is wrong. There is no justification for it. It's something you can control – you can keep your mouth shut. We don't take these things lightly."

Abusive coaches or players should not be involved with the sport, he said.


May 19: Falefiaoalii Faalolo, 50, storms on to a rugby field during a children's game in Papatoetoe and allegedly grabs the referee by the throat. He was charged with assault.

April 25: Football referee Len Gattsche is punched by a player, breaking his jaw in three places. The attack happened in the 79th minute of a match between Manukau City and Tauranga City. A man charged with assault appeared in court last week and has been suspended indefinitely.

May 2011: Palmerston North club rugby coach Andrew Rankin is knocked unconscious following a brawl between his team Bush and Kia Toa.

April 2011: A woman's football goalkeeper knocks out an opponent after being taunted: "Are you even a girl?" Lower Hutt goalie Lisa Pahl received a five-match ban.

October 2009: A referee is punched from behind by a spectator holding a baby after he called off an Auckland rugby game because of abuse from the crowd. The attack happened after the Samoan United Rugby Shield game between the Auckland Eagles and Laulii Liona at Williams Park in Mangere.

Contact Blair Ensor
Police reporter
Twitter: @blairensor

The Dominion Post