“They are destroying our sport a bit”, testifies a referee who is attacked by four people

On April 2, Théo, a young 18-year-old referee, was attacked at the end of a match at the Marc-Lourselle stadium, near Amiens. RC Salouël-Saleux (RC2S) received Albert’s USOAAS in the Under-17 Championship (U17). The official tells RMC Sport the circumstances of the attack and reacts after the first court decisions that fell in this case on Tuesday. Four people, including a mother and her two children, were arrested after the incident.

How did the incidents go?

I have been designated for the match between RC Salouël-Saleux (RC2S) and USOAAS d’Albert, on Saturday 2 April at 3 pm. I arrive at 2pm and I perform my protocol normally. The match starts and after 15 minutes the parents behind the goal start to challenge all my decisions. Pretty stupid thoughts. But above all, I had two parents in mind. In the first half the away team scores and that’s when the challenges of my decisions become more important. There was no goal in the second period. Salouël-Saleux’s team lost 1-0. I whistle the end of the game and when I go to the locker room the two parents I had in my eye start to get quite aggressive towards me. I continue my way and there is a player from Salouël-Saleux in front of me, who insults me and says that I did not know how to referee. I punish him with a red. A mother comes up to me with her dog and says “you gave my son a blushThis person beats me. I couldn’t answer that. There were a lot of people. The leaders saw the scene and decided to escort me to the locker room.

Along the way I felt myself being mounted on my back. He was the big brother of the player I sent away. I am pushed and fall violently to the ground, head first. As soon as I opened my eyes, player number 8 came out of the locker room to hit me. They took me back to the locker room and then I called the police. I really didn’t feel well without landmarks, I was shaking and walking back and forth in the locker room in stress. But if you think about it and we go back to the beginning of the game, I just told myself it was parents, normally it should be fine.

Have any players come to hear from you?

Seniors from Salouël-Saleux have heard from me since the incidents. I have also had many messages of support after this aggression two weeks ago. And even Ligue 1 referee Ruddy Buquet called me Friday morning to hear from me.

Are you stressed before your next match?

I will go back there, that’s for sure. I will still have a lump in my stomach for this next match. I won’t have the same view of the game either. I’ll be a little more careful. It will never be the same.

Referees have been under attack at amateur level for a few weeks now, what do you think?

It’s the same every weekend. People yell at us. Last weekend there were still umpires attacked. It’s quite unfortunate on the part of parents or managers who claim to be in love with football. They are destroying our sport a bit. What I find strange is that we see that especially in football. The image of football has been tarnished. Rugby referees are not bothered by this. It may be necessary to frame the supporters better. I regret that the image of football is represented by images of violence and in particular of the referees.

‘The problem for parents is that they see their son as future world champions’

Are you surprised it comes from a mother?

I said to myself, it’s a parent… It’s a mother who has to educate her children, we have many duties as parents. In my head I didn’t understand. I was really surprised, it comes from a mother of children who should have respect for others. She is 44 years old, at 44 you don’t and you think for your actions.

The ACBB has suspended its training for violence against its coaches, is that okay?

The problem for parents is that they see their son as future world champions. That’s the big problem. If the coaches or leaders follow suit, it helps to realize that we need to end this violence. It’s a crime, it should be avoided. It’s a very good idea. My mother was there to watch the game and my father was there for the first 40 minutes of the game. My mother was just shocked. She heard the insults, she didn’t see when I took the punches. When I was locked in the locker room, she was panicked and very pissed off. Fortunately, the relatives present after the encounter agreed with what my mother said about the other person who hit me.

In your case, justice was swift…

I tell myself that if my case had not been made public, justice would not have been so quick. With the investigation open, things moved pretty quickly. It also prevents lengthy procedures. This is good for me and also for other people who may face violence in future football matches. Compared to what justice has done, I have not been warned, I have heard that in the media. In any case, I will continue the arbitration, perhaps this weekend.