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‘Caveman behaviour’ - JFF referees head slams referee abuse at RSPL game, praises disciplinary response as good example set

Published:Monday | February 24, 2020 | 12:00 AMDaniel Wheeler/Gleaner Writer
Waterhouse FC’s Nicoli Finlayson (right) clears the ball with a header while under pressure from Tivoli Gardens FC’s Stephen Barnett in their Red Stripe Premier League fixture played at the Edward Seaga Sports Complex yesterday.
Referee Kevin Morrison (right) in discussion with Tivoli Gardens’ Kemar Flemmings during a recent Red Stripe Premier League match at the Edward Seaga Sports Complex on Sunday, January 19.

Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) referee department head Victor Stewart says the ejection of a fan from a Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) game for verbal abuse aimed at match officials yesterday will send a message to potential future aggressors that such behaviour will not be tolerated.

Stewart’s comments follow an incident during the game between hosts Tivoli Gardens and Waterhouse at the Edward Seaga Sports Complex yesterday. Tivoli were leading 3-0 in the first half when an assistant referee alerted head official Tyrone Robinson to a spectator being verbally abusive to them. Robinson promptly dismissed the fan from the ground, after consultation between the officials and a member of security having to be called. Tivoli went on to win the game 4-3.

Stewart praised Robinson’s action.

“I am happy that Robinson sent him out,” Stewart said. “We can no longer accept situations where people are constantly abusing match officials, making the situation uncomfortable. We cannot afford it. That is bush league mentality. That is caveman behaviour. We don’t want that in the football. It’s time we cut out that.”

Stewart says that the persistence of such behaviour will not attract persons who want to attend future games.


“This is a pre-historic type of behaviour by our spectators,” he said. “Nowhere in modern football is this allowed. And this is a deterrent for people who want to take their family to games.”

Stewart says that he has received positive feedback with the rules being strictly enforced and said that the approach of ejecting verbally abusive fans has led to local officials being more assured in carrying out their jobs.

“I have had conversations with people that have said this is a good decision that you are making with the referees to ensure that they cut out verbal abuses in games,” he said. “We want to move Jamaican football forward, and our referees are number one in the Caribbean and highly ranked in Concacaf. When they go out there, they are comfortable officiating because people are taking stringent action against these things, and it is anti-football, the behaviour of our spectators.

Stewart says that future situations will be treated similarly as they must make a statement against such behaviour.

“We don’t have time to stop the game and say ‘John Brown, I do not like what you are saying. No. John Brown, you have gone too far. Leave now or the game ends.’ We are here to facilitate the game for the benefit of everybody, not for you to come here and abuse the referee,” he said.