A Northland football player had his jaw broken in at least three places by a single punch while he was sitting on the substitutes bench during a game at the weekend.
Northern Wairoa player Santiago Cobus, of Uruguay, had his jaw broken after he was allegedly punched by a Tikipunga player.
The one-punch incident was alleged to have happened in the 76th minute of the division one match between Northern Wairoa and Tikipunga at Tikipunga Sports Park in Whangārei on Saturday afternoon.
The visiting team has filed a conduct report with the Northland Football Federation.
Chris Mason, a committee member of Northern Wairoa Football Club, said everyone was at a loss as to why a Tikipunga player allegedly punched Cobus.
"That [alleged] conduct was cowardly and despicable. It doesn't get any more serious without someone dying. It was a blind shot attack."
Mason said the injured player would not be the same again and doubted he would ever play in future.
"Players of our team on the field said they heard his jaw crack.
"I've seen the medical report and his jaw is broken in four places or three at the very least."
The injured player was taken to Whangārei Hospital in an ambulance while police spoke to witnesses at the venue.
Tikipunga Football Club executives met at noon yesterday to discuss the issue before releasing a short statement.
"Tikipunga AFC takes all accusations of unsportsmanlike behaviour by their players very seriously. As such, we are investigating in conjunction with Northern Football Federation and will be taking appropriate action," club secretary Mel Worth said.
The match was abandoned after the attack. Whangārei police couldn't confirm by edition time whether any charges had been laid.