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Alleged attacker banned from soccer league

Posted: July 22, 2012 - 12:09am  |  Updated: July 25, 2012 - 2:46pm

Patriots Park was the site of a despicable event recently when a soccer referee was assaulted by a player.

As of Thursday, a Columbia County Sheriff’s Office investigation into the matter had not culminated with an arrest.

It happened during a July 8 Augusta Amateur Soccer League match. With the match having gone into overtime and the opposing team having scored a go-ahead goal, the referee called a penalty on the player, who allegedly reacted outrageously, according to the Sheriff’s Office incident report.

According to the referee, the player began stepping on him and kicking his shins. The referee tried to pull a red card, and the player pushed his arm away. When he tried to give the red card once more, the player grabbed his neck and attempted to choke him, according to the report.

The referee began coughing up blood and left the game, which had ended at that point, and went to the hospital.

Richard Richards, the league’s referee assignor and Greater Augusta Soccer Officials Association president, was out of town, but says he heard about the incident five minutes after it happened. His outrage was swift and appropriate.

“I don’t want him out on the streets,” said Richards of the alleged attacker, who must be at least 18 years old to play in the adult league. “If you’re going to attack one of my officials, I want you to be prosecuted to the full extent.”

According to AASL owner and administrator Ricky Sanders, the player was permanently banned from competing in the league.

But might he still play elsewhere?

“I know places where he is registered to play in other leagues,” Richards said.

He will not be playing in Columbia County anytime soon, however.

“I’m just going to make sure he doesn’t get on any of our rosters,” said county Recreation and Events Manager Stacie Adkins. “The only (adult) thing that is offered out here is softball or soccer.”

With a possible assault charge pending, soccer might be the furthest thing from that player’s mind.

The incident won’t keep Adkins from renting fields to the AASL again.

“They handled it before I even knew about it,” Adkins said. “I don’t want the whole league to be punished because of one guy’s bad choice.”

Unfortunately in this day and age, it’s not unthinkable that this would ever happen at any level, though usually it sounds more like something that would occur in a South American country.

Here, in a youth or school setting, there would be swift parental, school and, likely, police involvement. But without those ties, judicial action might be the only possible recourse.

A longtime referee in the area, who did not wish to be identified, said they won’t throw new referees into the adult leagues.

“The adult league can be a different beast just because there’s a lot of things you don’t know about,” he said. “This person may work for a competing company.

“There could be bad blood from somewhere else and obviously, they’re bigger people.”

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Comments (4)

Craig Spinks

Did the referee...

swear out a warrant against his attacker?

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

Barry Paschal

Oddly, no

Oddly, no. He filed a report, but didn 't press charges.

DominoCup

Corrections

1. Charges were pressed and an arrest has been made.
2. New and underage referees are assigned to these games. The referee in question was neither new or underage, but hopefully this situation will change the practice of assigning new, uncertified and/or underage referees to these games.

GaStang22

Glad I read this article

This article and what these league heads have said in reaction to the event changed my mind about the league. Good for them to not tolerate this immature behavior. Other members on the other article say it isn't this players first time acting this way, but on the other article someone says its never happened. Whole thing looks kind of odd if you ask me. Had I just went with the other article, I would never attend or support this league again. The sponsor claimed the ref lied and there could have even been racial motivation behind the lies. The word too was also used suggesting it happened to others. I wouldn't want one putting stuff like that out there about my league. If its true then maybe new refs should be hired, but either way this seems like an issue more suited to be dealt with in house not the public newspaper. Were there other witnesses to this incident and are they giving their statements to the police and league? Especially with other witnesses claiming it never happened.

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