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Saturday, 18 November, 2000, 21:57 GMT
Referees under attack
Abel Xavier: Not pleased with Guenter Benko's decision
Xavier was unhappy with Benko's take on events
BBC Sport Online's Pranav Soneji looks at some of the more bizarre attacks on referees around the world.

Who would be a referee? A sentiment voiced around the globe when officials make decisions not too popular with fans and players alike.

They are often subjected to a barrage of verbal abuse for making unpopular decisions, especially from fiercely partisan fans.

But sometimes being a referee can have dangerous implications for your health.

Referees, it seems, are becoming increasingly more vulnerable to aggressive behaviour from players.

Take Bermudan referee Perry Scott. He was attacked by Kacy Simons last week after he sent the Tuff Dogs player off for an obscene gesture made when he had earlier booked him.

Simons walked off the field - but then ran back on to punch Scott. The referee was hospitalised, but Simons, who had provoked the Bermuda Referees' Association (BRA) to go on strike in protest, was banned from football for life.

Excessive protesting

Guenter Benko, who officiated the Euro 2000 semi-final between France and Portugal, and his Slovakian linesman Igor Sramka were the subject of "excessive protesting" from Abel Xavier, Nuno Gomes and Paulo Bento.

The fracas began when Sramka raised his flag to indicate that Xavier had handled a shot from Sylvain Wiltord.

The referee had initially signalled a corner, but after consultation with his linesman, Benko reversed his decision to give France the all-decisive penalty.

Needless to say, the decision was not met with enthusiasm from the Portuguese players, especially with the game evenly poised at 1-1.

The following fracas resulted in Benko and Sremka being repeatedly man-handled by Portuguese players - and both suffered bruising and scratching in the melee.

Xavier was handed a nine-month ban, reduced to six, from international football, while Gomes and Bento were also punished with five-month bans.

Over-exerted

Other footballers who have over-stated their protests include former Vietnamese international Chu Van Mui.

Mui was banned for life after leading an attack on the referee when his side were beaten 3-1 by Dong Thap in the Vietnamese cup final in June 1996.

The poor ref was kicked and punched and then, to add insult to injury, he was chased around the stadium.

Mui's team were subsequently fined 600 for their outburst. His team? Ho Chi Minh City Police.

Hospital

Staying in south-east Asia, a Malaysian referee was taken to hospital for facial injuries after he was attacked by angry mob of Kelantan players.

Roslan Ais was punched after certain Kelantan players felt he was not officiating to the best of his abilities.

They also did not take too kindly to linesmen Azman Nordin and SM Ramesh who rushed to assist their stricken colleague.

Needless to say, they soon joined their fellow official in hospital.

Jordanian Prince

Prince Ali: Referee protector
Prince Ali of Jordan tried to stop a riot
The Iraq v Jordan encounter at the ninth Pan-Arab Games was an equally memorable game for Palestinian referee Ibrahim abu al-Aish who met Prince Ali of Jordan, chairman of the Jordanian Football Federation, for the first time.

Unfortunately, the royal prince was protecting the ref from the clutches of the Iraqi side, who were trying to attack him after they were "less than happy" with his performance during their 2-1 defeat.

The referee had to be escorted from the ground by the police after a 22-man brawl on the pitch.

Unwarranted tirade

Another referee who also received an unwarranted tirade of physical abuse was Doug Cotter who was officiating a match in the Albuquerque League in New Mexico.

He had asked 61-year-old Elidio Ramirez to stop encroaching onto the pitch.

But Ramirez did not agree to Cotter's terms and promptly began to punch and kick the helpless official with the aid of several local supporters.

Ramirez was eventually convicted by a Sandoval County jury on kidnapping and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery charges for his role in the beating and has been banned from coaching in the Albuquerque Soccer League for 20 years.

The above cases highlight the extreme incidents where the referee's authority has been completely undermined by the unpredictable, and often, insane actions of those involved.

Paul Alcock, who was shoved by Paolo di Canio, must be thankful he officiates in England.

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See also:

16 Nov 00 |  Everton
Xavier's ban reduced
28 Sep 98 |  FA Carling Premiership
Di Canio charged with misconduct
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