Lynley Bilby

Lynley Bilby is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

College match turns abusive

Student and ref in spitting spat

Western Springs College principal Ken Havill said he'd received an apology from the West Auckland school. Photo / Kellie Blizard
Western Springs College principal Ken Havill said he'd received an apology from the West Auckland school. Photo / Kellie Blizard

A schoolboy football player and a referee are in hot water over a testy exchange that allegedly involved spitting and forced a match to be abandoned.

It's claimed the referee grabbed a college player by his collar after he was verbally abused and spat on by the upset teenage sportsman.

The Auckland Football Federation and College Sport have confirmed the pair will face disciplinary committees in coming weeks after a match between the top Avondale College and Western Springs football teams was called off.

Both schools and the referee have filed reports about the incident, which escalated after a player was ordered off the field.

Those at the match claim the player verbally abused the referee after he pulled him up for illegal play. For his outburst, the player received an automatic red card.

In the following moments the referee grabbed the player by the collar and the player spat on his face.

Those on the sidelines believed the pair were close to trading blows.

Western Springs College principal Ken Havill said he'd received an apology from the West Auckland school. "I am entirely satisfied with the way Avondale College is handling it," he said. "They've done everything we can expect."

Avondale College did not return calls by the Herald on Sunday, but Havill said he had been phoned by the acting principal who was at the game and saw the incident.

The game had been played in good spirits until an "aberration of one individual", Havill said.

Auckland Secondary Schools' Football Association secretary Ian McLaughlan said sanctions would be considered at the appropriate hearing. "There's going to be a disciplinary hearing but I don't know when," he said.

College Sport interim chief executive Jacqui Johnston said she was not able to talk in detail about the incident until the disciplinary process was finished.

She said College Sport expected all member schools to ensure a safe environment for all school matches and events.

That included taking practicable steps to ensure match officials and volunteers were protected from physical harm and verbal abuse.

Auckland Football Federation communications manager Daniel Markham said there would be a disciplinary committee hearing in coming weeks to decide on what, if any, penalty would be meted out to the referee.

He said the referee had not been stood down but did not have any scheduled school matches before the hearing.

- Herald on Sunday

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