Richens: Lay charges against sports thugsMATT RICHENS
The treatment of referees and umpires in this country is nothing short of appalling.
It's not new, but it is getting worse and there is an obvious correlation between the treatment of officials and the fact referee numbers are low in most sports and dangerously low in others.
This weekend there was another ugly incident involving an assistant referee on a football pitch. Sadly, these types of incidents pop up far too often.
It gives That's Rich plenty of fodder, sure, but it really is sad that club sport, the grassroots level of the games we all love, is being attacked by drop kicks and losers.
An incident from Saturday is being investigated where a spectator is alleged to have physically abused an assistant referee, grabbing him around the neck after a game.
While full details are yet to emerge as an investigation into this incident continues, the perfect way to deal with incidents of physical assault that are deemed serious enough is to lay a complaint with police.
If found guilty, the attacker would face charges and a conviction.
A hefty fine, a criminal record, possible jail-time for serious incidents and restrictions on future travel because of their criminal record - now that would work as a deterrent.
And there can't be a lack of witnesses, surely. Hopefully they're willing to step forward to help stamp this sort of behaviour out. Clubs need to be given more responsibility to look after their spectators.
Penalties and punishments to the clubs whose fans - and players - misbehave will force the clubs to crack down and to enforce good behaviour.
The governing bodies can't be everywhere and why should officials be charged with controlling what's happening off the field as well as on it.
At the moment it's not the clubs problem and it should be. The odd thing is these spectators hold the officials to a different standard than they hold the team they support.
It's very seldom that you hear a spectator abusing a mistake from a player, yet every referee or umpire decision is criticised by half the crowd.
Why should the officials be perfect, the players definitely aren't yet players, coaches and fans go after the referees and umpires - that is a weak way of taking out your frustrations.
The day when there are no officials at senior club level in a number of sports is closer than most people appreciate... how about we all start doing something about that now before it's too late.
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