Harrassing the referee during a football match is a very contentious subject.
On the one hand, it's understandable that players sometimes feel incensed over unjust decisions and resent the "referee is always right" stance that often comes across as arrogant and priggish. But on the other hand, intimidation of an official should never be tolerated. Drawing the line between allowing angry players to blow off a little steam and refusing to tolerate attacks is the toughest part of the job for the men in black.
In this one incident over the weekend, however, there were precisely zero shades of grey.
Referee (and local councillor) Donald Distin, a former mayor, was punched by a player during a South Devon Football League match between Torre (whose player committed the assault) and Ashburton Reserves.
A local football ref has been taken to hospital after being punched by a player during a match in Devon. Not good. pic.twitter.com/LZolVMJQHC
— Sunday League Footy (@SundayChants) May 4, 2014
Distin was taken the Torbay hospital with facial injuries while Torre have since withdrawn from the league entirely after the game, which was abandoned due to the attack. They have also made the decision to cease operations as a club.
A police spokesman said officers were called to the ground, and while no arrests have been made officers are still investigating the attack.
Distin said he has had plenty of verbal abuse in the past but "nothing like this before".
He said: "They x-rayed me and I've got no cracked bones.
"I've got bruised eyes, I can't open one eye at all, it's completely shut. I've got a cut lip, and there's bruising coming out below my jaw line. I can't eat at the moment."
"It knocked me to the ground. I wasn't unconscious, but was a bit delirious.
"It took me 20 minutes to recover. The match was called off straight away."
He said the attack happened 35 minutes into the game.
Jamie Aylett, Torre's manager, confirmed the player had used another name to play in Saturday's match after he had been sent off in a match on Thursday.
He said: "The club has withdrawn from the league because of this and it will fold.
"I'm getting lots of grief on football forums but this is one incident by a player who has let the whole league system down."
- Sports & Recreation