By DALLAS SHERRINGHAM
ABUSING the ref at your local sporting match could lead to a hefty fine and a lifetime ban under new legislation being introduced by the NSW Government.
The Government is investigating strict penalties for violent or abusive behavior following the recent televised attack on a soccer referee.
Minister for Sports Steve Kamper said Government had begun working with major codes, venue operators and community groups to investigate new penalties aimed at protecting sporting volunteers and referees.
“The recent violence experienced by Khodr Yaghi, was shocking and unacceptable and more needs to be done to stamp out this behavior.”
“With a huge number of people in NSW regularly participating in organised sport, the need for volunteers and referees has never been greater.”
Mr Kamper reiterated his support for volunteers and referees, highlighting the ongoing need to treat these grassroots sporting heroes with the respect and appreciation they deserve.
“Sport keeps us healthy, supports friendly competition, builds discipline and puts the best of the human spirit on display.
“Whether you’re an aspiring Olympian looking towards Brisbane 2032, or just want to kick a ball around with some friends, sport brings us all together.
Amongst the measures being investigated are stricter policies to punish violent or abusive behavior, including lifetime bans from all sporting venues, sanctions against teams or clubs where individuals are allowed to be involved after being suspended and a greater campaign to encourage respectful behavior.
These mechanisms and sanctions will be tailored to individual sports and will be developed through deep consultation to ensure their effectiveness.
Other measures being discussed at a local level include halting matches until verbal abuse stops and abandoning the match and awarding the points to the opposition side if it continues. Clubs may even have to video tape all games to be used as evidence in the event of an attack or attacks.
It would be up to clubs to counsel repeat offenders and if necessary, ban them from matches and club participation.
“Our referees and volunteers deserve our respect, but more importantly they deserve to be safe,” Mr Kamper said.
“We are looking forward to working with sport organisations on how we can ensure that this behavior is stamped out of our grassroots sporting communities.”
“Without volunteers there is no grassroots sport – we must do everything in our power to ensure they feel safe and respected.”