(CNS): Cayman’s football referees have “withdrawn their services” until the Cayman Islands Football Association (CIFA) takes action to deal with violence against these officials at local games. On Saturday a referee was assaulted during the Senior Men’s FA Cup Semi-Finals Match at the Ed Bush field between Future and Alliance FCs. With a scoreline of 3-0 to Future as injury time got underway, a coach from Alliance hit the referee, and according to the Cayman Islands Referee Association, this isn’t the first time.
Match officials downed flags and whistles on Sunday because of the violence and four of the men’s FA Cup games postponed. A spokesperson for the association of volunteer referees said the rest of the officials will continue to strike until the Cayman Islands Football Association does something.
Already this year there have been more than five reported incidents at matches aimed at referees involving physical attacks and discrimination based on gender, race or nationality, and the association believes there are many more unreported cases as well as verbal abuse against the volunteers, without whom the sport cannot function.
CNS Contacted CIFA but we have not received a response.
Sports Minister Osbourne Bodden, who remains in dispute with the local football association over a financial scandal, said he was saddened to hear of another incident.
“This is unacceptable behaviour and should be scorned upon by all players and clubs, and the responsible parties should be disciplined and sternly dealt with,” Bodden said. “Refs should be respected, and even when they make mistakes, they should be appreciated for the job they do and CIFA has a duty to protect them.”
But he pointed out that the ministry is still at odds with the football body as it has still not “been open and accountable” about the scandals surrounding the finances.
“We have very little correspondence with CIFA and there is no change to financing them,” the sports minister told CNS. “We continue to support youth football through other avenues, such as tournaments and special request cases for national teams etc, and of course through free use of our facilities.”
Bodden added that he hoped this latest violent matter would be handled properly and timely and will not affect the rest of the football season.