Viral video prompts calls to end referee abuse: “Enough’s enough”
A video posted to social media which shows a young referee in tears has prompted calls to stop referee abuse.
The video, posted by spectator David Faafua, shows the moments after the alleged abuse took place from an unnamed sideline supporter at a rugby league game in Auckland.
“Some supporters think it’s okay to verbally abuse and threaten referees because they don’t know how to deal with their emotions, especially when their team is losing,” said Faafua.
“To hear what this specific supporter was saying to this referee and the threats is disgusting. To witness this, especially at [the] Premier level of the game we enjoy playing/watching, is disappointing.”
It is unclear what the supporter said, but according to referee and principal Karl Anthony Vasau, referee abuse in not uncommon.
“I’ve been refereeing for 30-plus years, and I’ve refereed many different codes, and you learn strategies to block things out; you learn ways in which you can help yourself in different situations,” Vasau told Tagata Pasifika.
“But there have been times that I felt like I was going to be either verbally [or] physically assaulted.”
Vasau knows the referee in the video, noting the young man is experienced at the top level and enjoys what he does. After watching the video and experiencing abuse himself, he felt compelled to post to Facebook calling for an end to referee abuse.
“It just makes you think people are so heartless… Imagine if the ref was their son, daughter, husband, brother or friend – would they sit there and allow it?”
He says while there are fantastic supporters, there is a small group “that think it is okay to scream out or abuse referees or players or spectators”.
“Enough’s enough… It’s making people not enjoy the sport they love.”
He hopes other spectators who witness abuse will call out the behaviour.
“With the help of those wonderful spectators, you can help us sort out the sideline. Because it’s not for me as a referee to stop my game and to confront that sideline abuse, but people around that person need to step up and support and to play their part so we can continue to have a wonderful game.”