amateur football: "they’re kinda killing our game"A referee attacked by four men testifies

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On 2 April, Theo, a young 18-year-old referee, was attacked at the end of a match at the Marc-Lorcel stadium, near Amiens. RC Salouël-Saleux (RC2S) received Albert’s USOAAS at the Under-17 (U17) Championship. The official explained the circumstances of the attack to RMC Sport and responded following the first court rulings in the matter on Tuesday. After this incident, four people including a mother and her two children were arrested.

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How did the events unfold?

I have been named for the match between RC Salouël-Saleux (RC2S) and USOAAS d’Albert on Saturday 2 April at 3 PM. I arrive at 2 pm and I complete my protocol as usual. The match starts and after 15 minutes the parents behind the goal start challenging all my decisions. Quite a silly idea. But above all I had two parents in mind. The away team scores in the first half and then the challenges of my decisions become more important. No goals were scored in the second round. The Salouel-Selux team lost 1–0. I blow the whistle for the end of the game and when I walk into the locker room, the two parents I had in my eyes started getting very aggressive with me. I continue on my way and there is a player from Salouel-Selux standing in front of me, insulting me and telling me that I didn’t know how to referee. I decorate it with red paint. A mother comes to me with her dog and says “you put a rouge for my son“. This person slapped me. I couldn’t answer him. There were too many people. The leaders saw the scene and decided to take me to the locker room.

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On the way I felt that I was being made to sit on my back. He was the elder brother of the player I had expelled. I am pushed and I fall violently to the ground, head first. As soon as I opened my eyes, player number 8 came out of the locker room to punch me. They took me back to the locker room and then I called the police. I wasn’t really okay with no landmarks, I was trembling and I was going back and forth in the locker room, insisted. Still, when you think about it and we go back to the beginning of the match, I just told myself it was the parents, generally it should be fine.

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Has any player come to hear from you?

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Senior players from Salouel-Selux have come to hear from me since the events. I also had lots of messages of support after this aggression two weeks ago. And even Rudy Bouche, who was the referee in Ligue 1, called me on Friday morning to hear from me.

Are you tense for your next match?

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I’ll go back there, that’s for sure. There will still be a lump in my stomach before this next match. I will not have the same vision of the match. I’ll be a little more on my guard. It will never be the same again.

Referees have been attacked at amateur level for a few weeks now, what do you think?

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The same thing happens every weekend. People are shouting at us. Last weekend, the referee was still attacked. It’s quite a shame on the part of parents or managers who claim to love football. They are killing our game a bit. What I find strange is that we see this especially in football. The image of football has been tarnished. Rugby referees do not suffer from this. It may be necessary to frame the supporters better. I find it a shame that the image of football is depicted on images of violence, and in particular referees.

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“The problem for parents is that they see their son as a future world champion”

Do you wonder if it comes from a single mother?

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I said to myself, it is a parent… it is a mother who should educate her children, we have so many duties as parents. I didn’t understand in my head. I was really surprised, it comes from the mother of children who should have respect for others. She is 44 years old, 44 years old you don’t do this and you think before your actions.

ACBB suspends their training for violence against their coaches, do you think that’s cool?

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The problem for parents is that they see their son as a future world champion. That’s the big problem. If coaches or leaders follow, it helps to realize that we must end this violence. It is punishable, it should be avoided. This is a wonderful idea. My mother was present to watch the match and my father was present for the first forty minutes of the match. My mother was just shocked. He heard the insult, he didn’t see when I took the hit. When I was locked in the locker room, she panicked and became very angry. Fortunately, relatives present after the meeting agreed with what my mother said about the other person who slapped me.

Justice was swift in your case…

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I tell myself that if my case had not been publicized, justice would not have happened so quickly. With the probe open, it went very quickly. It also avoids lengthy processes. This bodes well for me and others who may experience violence in future football matches. Compared to what justice has delivered, I have not been warned, I have learned in the media. In any case, I will continue to mediate, perhaps even later this week.

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