The Referees Association of Ghana (RAG) is demanding stiffer punishment for football hooligans who have increased their penchant attacking referees.
According to the RAG, the Ghana Football Association (GFA) must, as a matter of urgency, take drastic measures that will deter people from taking the law into their own hands, instead of the fines and match bans imposed on clubs whose fans violently attack referees.
Mr Joe Debrah, the Chairman of RAG, yesterday told the Graphic Sports that the association was fed up with the incessant attacks on its members by hooligans, who in the name of football, act criminally because decisions do not go in their favour.
Mr Debrah was reacting to the latest attack on Wa-based Referee Yakubu Nuhu Liman, who was injured on the forehead after being hit with a sharp object from the stands at the Nduom Stadium during Elmina Sharks’ home game against Medeama last Wednesday.
The referee suffered deep cuts to his head and was later rushed to the hospital for treatment, causing the game to be called off and the incident reported to the police.
Elmina Sharks, however, denied complicity explaining on their Twitter handle that Referee Liman suffered the injury after he slipped and fell while making his way into the dressing room during halftime.
It was the second time that the referee had been assaulted this season. The first was on Match Day Two when fans in Berekum attacked him during the Berekum Chelsea versus Dreams FC game, which ended 1-1 at the Golden City Park. Chelsea are currently serving a three-match home ban as punishment for the assault.
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“The official narration from Sharks is a complete lie. Members are pushing for us to boycott the matches until some drastic action is taken to curb this hooliganism at all levels in football. Unfortunately, the GFA is our business partner so we can not take any unilateral decision without conferring with them.
“For now, we are giving the GFA the benefit of the doubt to take action as it is obvious that the three-match bans and fines given our as punishment for such offences have not been deterrent enough,” Mr Debrah explained.
He said the RAG was also considering taking legal action against clubs whose fans attacked their members as it was now getting out of hand.
“It is a criminal offence for anyone to assault another, however, most people are reluctant to report to the police and allow for prosecution of such cases.
“In the past, members who fell victim to such acts of vandalism were not keen on pursuing it because of the inconveniences and time spent in getting justice from the courts. Most people think that it is alright to attack people just because of football. Any kind of assault is a criminal act and now, we will forcefully push that through.
“Now, we are strongly encouraging our people to report and we will support them through the proceedings if it gets that far. We will not wait for a tragic death to occur before we take action,” Mr Debrah revealed.
He said the injured referee was in a stable condition after being treated at the hospital.