A former international footballer has been sentenced to nine months of home detention for assaulting a referee during an Anzac Day match in Auckland.

Tama Fasavalu, 36, had earlier pleaded guilty to wounding with intent to injure after the attack on Len Gattsche in a game at Massey Park, Mangere in April.

Mr Gattsche gave Fasavalu - a former Samoan international - a second yellow card for heavy tackling during the 79th minute of the match.

A second yellow card automatically becomes a red card, meaning Fasavalu was sent off for the rest of the match.


At Fasavalu's sentencing at Manukau District Court today Judge Sharon McAuslan indicated that two-and-a-half years imprisonment was the starting point for offending similar to Fasavalu's, but given his early guilty plea and "excellent character references,'' he was entitled to a reduction.

But Fasavalu's lawyer Iuni Sapolu said even a sentence of home detention would be detrimental to his family.

Fasavalu lived with his wife and daughters aged two and five and wouldn't be able to support them if he wasn't able to work she said.

Fasavalu had been in fulltime employment for eight years and "in the recessionary environment'' it would be hard for him to find work when his sentence finished, she said.

"He will have to rely on the taxpayer if he is on home detention.''

Judge McAuslan said a home detention sentence was appropriate given the nature of the offending and the victim's suffering.

She described the attack as an example of "unprovoked, gratuitous violence'' that should never have happened.

Fasavalu played three games for Samoa and scored two goals in a World Cup qualifying match in 2004.


He was playing for Manukau City at the time of the alleged offence but has since been suspended indefinitely from the club.

After a hearing, the judicial panel of the Auckland Football Federation imposed an indefinite suspension from all involvement in the game and fined Fasavlu $1000.

The suspension can be lifted only by application to New Zealand Football after a minimum of 12 months.