Help us! - Referees call for support
President of the Jamaica Football Referees Association, Malachi Reid, is concerned for the safety of referees across the island and is calling on the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) and parish authorities to enforce security rules at each game after recent attacks against match officials.
Reid believes the local governing body needs to address the acts of violence being dished out to referees and their assistants and is imploring the authorities to be proactive in handling potential threats. He noted that at least two police personnel are required to be at each game but that this is not always the case, leading to security concerns for match officials.
According to Reid, who could not provide details, there have been three incidents of physical abuse against officials in recent weeks, two in the Kingston and St Andrew Football Association and one in St Catherine.
Reid mentioned instances when officials were forced to make judgement calls on whether or not it was safe for a game to proceed in cases where there were clear breaches of the security and safety requirements of the organisers.
“From the referees’ perspective, our role is there as facilitators of the game. While the referee is expected to maintain the rule, I think the organisers of the game have to take some responsibility instead of putting it all on the referees. When the fields are marked, the teams are present and the spectators are there, and at that last minute, you leave it to three men to decide that ‘I am not going to officiate because something might happen (because no security personnel is at the game)’,” said Reid.
“So it is not just saying that two police must be there at each game, but [the authorities] should put things in place and give penalties (when there are breaches). It can’t be only when something happens we highlight it; this is a rule and should not only be a rule when something happens. What we have seen is that for most of the games, nothing happens, (but when there are no police and the referee allows the game to go on and something happens), it is said that two police should have been there, so we are blaming the referees for being facilitators of the game,” he added.
Reid said that match officials feel like they are on their own because they have yet to hear the JFF come to their defence or condemn the acts of violence against their colleagues.
“The parish associations are aware of the issues, and the parish associations are directly linked to the JFF, and the parish referees pointed out the issues to their parish chairmen. That means the JFF is aware because the parish chairpersons are representatives to the JFF,” Reid said.
“Organisers need to take some responsibility in ensuring that the rules that they put down are adhered to. Organisers must not let it happen that officials come and there is no security. We would like the JFF to add their voice and show they are in support of the referees and them seeking security and a safer environment to officiate in. When the JFF says nothing, it seems the referees are on their own. The JFF are the chief organisers of football in the country, and we require of the governing body to address these situation. This goes to the whole essence of football because if the referees are not safe, they can’t concentrate on doing a good job,” he said.