Player gets 6-week ban for ref abuse

A footballer has copped a lengthy ban after abusing a referee during a Capital Premier match, while another player has been sidelined for spitting in a referee's face.

Martin Packer, of Lower Hutt side Stop Out, was sent off in the club's 3-0 loss to Wainuiomata on Saturday, but before leaving the field verbally abused the referee. The incident was reported to the Capital Football Federation, and the 27-year-old midfielder was suspended for six weeks at a disciplinary hearing this week. It is the latest in a series of ugly incidents involving referees this season, with a Lower Hutt player recently banned for spitting in a referee's face, and a Masterton player suspended after trying to punch a referee.

Stop Out chairman Neil Kemp said he was reluctant to discuss the matter at this stage, but said it might be "a storm in a teacup".

"From reading [an email report] it looks like he's been sent off and he's said something to the ref. If you're sent off, then you've got to accept that, but it's not like he's had a go at the ref or anything like that."

Packer, who returned to play for Stop Out this year after living in England, has scored several goals for the club while playing in both the Capital Premier division and the Chatham Cup.

The club would consider appealing against his ban, Mr Kemp said.

Capital Football chief executive Richard Reid said the punishment was in line with a memo sent to all clubs promising to take an "extremely dim view" of any verbal abuse, on or off the field.

Referring to abuse as "this blight on the game", the memo stated it would be "stamped out, one way or the other".

"Given the very public occurrences across all sports, and [Capital Football's] memo to clubs, nobody should be surprised at our response," Mr Reid said.

Last month, Lower Hutt City player Donald Mani was given a 17-week ban for spitting in a referee's face during a Capital 6 game. He had just been sent off for a dangerous tackle.

Lower Hutt club president Jim Baxter said the club agreed with the punishment. "It will take him through until about halfway through next season, and we think Capital Football's got it right.

"With something this serious, obviously we're not going to defend it."

Earlier this month Shiro Cribb, of Masterton's Douglas Villa club, was banned for 10 weeks for abusing and trying to punch a referee after a Wairarapa Division 2 match.

Club president Zac Innes said there were "lots of rumours" about the incident, but it needed to be condemned, regardless of the details.

"From what I gather, the referee approached him after the game and tried to explain why he had given him a card, and Shiro's had a few words and thrown a punch, which some people say he might have stopped or it might have missed.

"But even if you go to strike a ref and miss, it's still violent conduct."

A police spokeswoman said such incidents, which could qualify as criminal assaults, often went unreported.

"Where police become aware of an incident or someone makes a complaint, then obviously we would investigate.

"But we don't know what we don't know."

Contact Seamus Boyer
Wairarapa reporter
Twitter: @SeamusBoyer

The Dominion Post