PFJL awaits report on reporter’s alleged assault
PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL Jamaica Limited (PFJL) CEO, Owen Hill, says he is awaiting a report into an incident at a Jamaica Premier League game between Harbour View and Vere United at the Wembley Centre of Excellence on Sunday where a Gleaner reporter was allegedly assaulted.
The game, an ill-tempered affair, had to be stopped for 10 minutes after off-field scuffles threatened to become dangerous.
Harbour View physical trainer, Jason ‘Buju’ Henry, had just been ejected from the playing area for verbally abusing the fourth official when the series of incidents took place.
It is understood that after leaving the playing area, police officers attempted to remove Henry from the immediate surroundings of the field, which led to the officers being swarmed by Harbour View players and support staff.
During that melee, Harbour View manager, Oneil ‘Bigga’ Smith, who left the bench to argue Henry’s case, was accosted and reprimanded by the lawmen, and with the Harbour View supporters growing more irate, a police officer fired a warning shot to disperse the crowd.
Simultaneously, a Gleaner reporter, recording the incident with his phone, was allegedly verbally and then physically attacked by Harbour View goalkeeper David Martin, who insisted he stop recording.
It is alleged that the incident approached boiling point when the reporter refused to adhere to the demands that he stop recording and Martin slapped the phone from his hands.
According to the reporter, he was then surrounded by a group of aggrieved Harbour View players. It was at that point that Harbour View assistant coach, Sean Fraser, intervened.
“What happened with the reporter was that one of the players was saying don’t video it [melee] and the man was saying he is doing his job. So I had to move him away from the reporter,” said Fraser.
According to the reporter, who also reported the incident to the match commissioner, he has been a long-time fan of the East Kingston club and Sunday’s incident was a major disappointment for him because he holds the club in such high regard.
Harbour View general manager, Clyde Jureidini, commended the reporter for making a report to the match commissioner. However, he refused to comment further as he awaits an official report.
“We will give a response to the JFF and to write a response to the football authorities. But the club cannot respond publicly.
“We will give our report there and have the matter dealt with by those bodies,” he said.
“I don’t know (about reporter assaulted). I wasn’t there. But that’s the way it should go,” said Jureidini.
“Like him [the reporter], we have to send in the report. I wasn’t there so my technical staff and management will be sending in the report.”
Hill said he is also awaiting the match commissioner’s report before making a determination on the matter.
“I haven’t received any official reports, but internally we are aware of the situation and we have reached out to the clubs to get their reports on the matter.
“The process includes the collaboration of each individual report and the report from the match commissioner.
“The match commissioner will be responsible for the proceedings and that will help to guide any review and action thereafter,” he said.
Hill was also quick to condemn any violence or threat of violence, especially at JPL games which, he said, have the reputation of being safe.
“We have reiterated that it is a safe space. Incidents like these create unnecessary angst among spectators, partners or stakeholders.
“If it is, in fact, true, we condemn it. But we need evidence on that to say this is what happened and this is why it happened.
“We hope that whoever (reporter) was involved is safe right now and that good sense will prevail. But we await the report of the match commissioner and from there we will give further word on what will happen.
“There are videos circulating and access to some of that footage would help. But the official report must come from the commissioner, who was in charge on the day,” he stated.
Attempts to contact Martin, the person alleged to be at the centre of the controversy, proved futile.