Assaults on match officials are comparatively rare and most are minor and result in no injury but be prepared; you could be a victim at some time in the course of your duties as a referee or assistant referee. Referees should regard any assault on their assistant referees in the same way as an assault on themselves. This advice applies equally to all match officials.
PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE
Aggression can often be avoided, deflected, subdued, managed or controlled by remaining calm and applying practical psychology. Never incite or provoke violence. Be alert to those who may be angry, excited or liable to outbursts of temper and try to keep a safe distance away.
WHAT TO DO IF ASSAULTED
Never react to an assault by losing self-control or showing aggression. Stop the game, step back from the person concerned and keep composed. Consider whether you are fit both mentally and physically to continue, having regard to the severity of the assault and any injury. Allow plenty of time, first consulting your neutral assistant referees, if any. Being fit to continue includes not only the absence of any significant injury: you must be fully in control of yourself mentally and physically and capable of controlling the game. If suffering shock or feeling anger, you will be unfit and must withdraw. If in doubt abandon the match. Do not retire and allow the senior assistant referee or any other person to take over. Identify by name the person responsible for the assault. Note the time and the names and addresses of any available witnesses including any who had a clear view of the incident or saw the aftermath. Consider whether police, ambulance or other medical attention should
be called? If not, should you travel directly to hospital for treatment?
ADVISE YOUR LRA SECRETARY
You must inform your LRA Secretary of the incident, no matter how serious the incident is. A form designed for this purpose can be downloaded from the RA website. The Society will offer you further advice and support and be able to monitor and observe the procedures of the County FA or FA and make representations if appropriate.
In more serious cases where an assault has caused emotional damage, counselling services may be available upon medical advice and/or under the terms of the RA Group Personal Accident Insurance Policy. Consult your doctor and advise your LRA Secretary.
FA/COUNTY FA DISCIPLINARY REPORT AND STATEMENT TO THE POLICE
As soon as possible, prepare and submit a detailed disciplinary report to the County FA including the names and contact details of any witnesses and a description of any injuries. Inform the competition, which may suspend persons involved from their matches pending the disciplinary commission. The police should have been informed and they may request a witness statement, a copy of your disciplinary report and the names and contact details of witnesses.
KEEP A RECORD OF YOUR INJURY OR LOSS
Keep a record of any injury or other loss for use at any trial or disciplinary commission. Take photos of injuries. Retain damaged property, invoices/receipts for additional expenditure on medical treatment, medication, dental repairs and repairing or replacing damaged equipment. Keep a record of travel costs, telephone calls, lost earnings etc., all of which may be recoverable from the person concerned, under an award by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority or by insurance cover.
POLICE INQUIRIES AND PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS
Assaults should be reported to the Police as soon as practicable. Ensure that you make a note of the crime reference number which will be peculiar to the incident. Police and the Crown Prosecution Service have discretion to bring criminal charges for assault and will probably do so where there is reasonably clear evidence of an assault by an identified suspect which has caused injury. The charge(s) will be selected according to the seriousness of the injury. Where there is no injury, police will normally leave disciplinary action to the football authorities. Where a prosecution has been initiated, the County FA may impose an interim suspension of any person charged with an offence and suspend the hearing of the disciplinary commission until the conclusion of the criminal case.
Whatever the outcome of the criminal case, the County FA is then entitled to revive its charges against the person concerned. If County FA charges are not proceeded with after the criminal proceedings, inform your Society Secretary who can make representations through your County Referees’ Association.
(Reproduced form the RA Manual of Guidance, originally drafted by Bart O’Toole)