The local football fraternity is now mourning the passing of former FIFA assistant referee Stephen Brown, who died on Christmas Eve at the University Hospital of the West Indies, Mona. He was 38.
President of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), Captain Horace Burrell, expressed condolences on behalf of the federation to his family, friends, and the members of the referees fraternity.
Peter Prendergast, chairman of the JFF's referees committee, who is away and expected back in Jamaica tomorrow, said the news of Brown's death has left him very distraught.
"I'm distraught, it was unexpected," Prendergast told The Gleaner yesterday. "It speaks to the importance of referees doing their medical test each year. The test is a requirement of FIFA," the former FIFA referee added.
In a release, the Kingston and St Andrew Football Association said: "Stephen Brown, a former FIFA assistant referee, made the transition to the Lord, on Tuesday, December 24 at 3 a.m. in the UWI Hospital. Please send off a prayer to his family and friends in this moment of grief."
Brown, who had a master's degree in physical education, became a FIFA referee in 2007. He was selected for the FIFA Under-17 Men's World Cup in South Korea in 2009 and Mexico in 2011.
APPOINTED MANY TIMES
He was appointed numerous times to major tournaments in the Caribbean Football Union and CONCACAF. Brown was also a member of the National Premier League referees panel from 2005 until the time of his passing.
A Caribbean News Agency report yesterday said Brown's best friend and colleague, referee Oneal Clayton, was at his bedside when he died.
According to Clayton, Brown started complaining about pain in his foot during the summer after he officiated in matches in the Schwan's Cup in Minnesota, USA.
"He was in hospital for three weeks with a blood clot in his foot," Clayton said.
"He came out, but Sunday he called me saying 'Little bredda, me back inna the hospital; complication breathing."