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Referees' body condemns attack on match official

By Kern De Freitas

The Trinidad and Tobago Football Referees Association (TTFRA) has condemned Monday's attack on assistant referee Kevin Charles during the Coca Cola InterCol South Zone final between Presentation College San Fernando and Shiva Boys Hindu School, at Manny Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella.

In a release yesterday, signed by TTFRA public relations officer Robin Murray, the Association slammed "in the strongest terms the attack by a spectator on assistant referee Kevin Charles".

The TTFRA also took the opportunity to remind football organisers that "proper security arrangements" must be put in place at matches to prevent unauthorised persons entering the field of play, and to ask for protection for match officials at match venues.

"We must point out to the general public that violent incidents such as these only serve to dissuade able-bodied, willing persons from coming forward to serve the sport as match officials," the release also stated.

The last ten minutes of the encounter are due to be played today, after the incident forced the match to be stopped. Presentation were leading 2-1 at the time, with Angel Williams (penalty) and Shakiel Henry handing the San Fernando school the advantage. Shiva scored through Kyle Thomas.

Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) president Ewing Davis also strongly denounced the attack.

"The League does not condone what took place yesterday," Davis told the Express. "We're also aware it was a spectator. We have always asked of the spectators to do nothing to impede the game.

"We use football as a medium to provide education and I don't understand why the spectator will try to destroy education. We cannot condone it because if that is the message we are sending to the children (that violence solves problems), then Lord help us."

Davis denied, though, that security was lax at the Marabella venue.

"…One gentleman just played the fool, it was just that second when everybody were relaxed (and focused on) what was happening (on the field). The League, we have never tried to put students in any danger, and I'm not too certain what people will like us to do. I can't see what we can do beyond (what we have done already)."

Presentation coach Shawn Cooper, though, who suggested there may have been alcohol at the venue, was not satisfied with security arrangements.

"Definitely around schools football I don't think alcohol (is appropriate) or even if somebody seems to be intoxicated. But coming into the game, a screening process should take place," Cooper said. "Security-wise…how much security is enough security? How much police officers would you put there to deal with (incidents of violence)?"

Cooper felt the man who attacked Charles was able to access the field "too easy".

"I don't think there was any security member there by the staircase or on the track. Supporters said the guy (who attacked Charles) said he was going to burst (Charles') head. It's ridiculous. When will it end? And what example (are we setting)?"

Meanwhile, Shiva Boys coach Dexter Francis said his players were also shocked at the incident.

"An incident like that was a first time for them. They really feel it, seeing that (happening in) the game. It was a bit of surprise to everybody. Seeing an incident like that; even the staff too (were shocked)."

Francis said there was no conclusive evidence that the offender was a Shiva Boys fan, and called for better security to prevent a repeat.

"It is sad to see at this state there is a college's football league and most of the supporters will be school children. It's a sad thing to see this happen at a football league. It is not a good sight for them to see this going on," Francis ended.

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