Junior soccer referee quits over threats made during match

A 20-year-old referee has quit his role after threats were made to him during an underage football match by a man on the sideline.

Harry McCann, a UCC student in humanities and IT and the MD of, says he wrote to the Kildare and District Underage League over threats made to him by a man on Saturday while he refereed a junior soccer match.

“A full-grown man approached me on the side of a pitch and made a striking action at me,” he said.

The award-winning tech entrepreneur criticised the FAI for stating no complaints had been received regarding the alleged threats.

Mr McCann told Seán O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio One the man “made a striking motion in my direction” while he was refereeing the game.

The incident unfolded after a child was accidentally hit by a ball and began to cry. Mr McCann, who claims to have endured numerous incidents over the past four years while refereeing, has quit his role after the incident.

But the FAI issued a statement saying: “To date, the FAI has received no report from the referee in question in relation to this incident or any previous incident.”

Mr McCann, from Kildare, showed this newspaper proof of emails sent to the league, and responded to, from Sunday evening, and in March regarding another incident.

He told the Irish Independent: “I’d like to reiterate that I sent the report from what happened on Saturday to the league on Sunday. And I sent a report on March 31 about another incident.

“My issue is the league is not doing anything about it. Or has the FAI not heard about it?

“They (the FAI and league) haven’t reached out to me. I’m very contactable. I did get a two-word response (email) from the league (on Sunday) and they received the report. They (the FAI and league) are trying to ignore the situation, which is disingenuous.”

The FAI said in a statement: “The FAI condemns any threat of violence against a referee and will take action against anyone found guilty of any behaviour that threatens a referee, verbally or physically.

“To date, the FAI has received no report from the referee in question in relation to this incident or any previous incident. No such report has been received as yet from the Kildare and District Underage League in relation to the alleged incident at the weekend.”

Mr McCann added that he would not be “reaching out” to the FAI or league after the FAI had issued the statement.

Mr McCann is calling for a “zero-tolerance approach to threats against referees. He said the way the league and the FAI had behaved – by stating he hadn’t corresponded on the issues – failed to answer an ongoing problem.

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