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Referee hospitalised after La Brea minor league match; refereeing bodies call for boycott

Two Trinidad and Tobago refereeing bodies have urged officials to boycott a minor league competition in La Brea with immediate effect, after referee Michael London was assaulted immediately following a game yesterday evening.

London, who is one of the country’s elite referees, is at the San Fernando General Hospital at present with bruised ribs and a hairline fracture of the jaw. A report has been filed with the relevant police station.

Photo: Referee Larry Lalchan (centre) and fourth official Gordon Maloney (second from left) share a moment before kick-off during a Pro League contest in the 2014 season.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

London is the uncle of fellow referee Devon London and Pleasantville Secondary women’s assistant coach Brian London, who is also a former national extempo champion and a five-time Calypso Monarch finalist.

The Trinidad and Tobago Football Referees Association (TTFRA) condemned the “cowardly attack” and urged the TTFA’s Referees Committee to boycott the La Brea competition.

“The TTFRA hereby strongly advise that the TTFA Referees Committee instruct match officials to immediately cease providing referee service to this particular league,” stated a release from TTFRA general secretary Boni Bishop. “Also that suitable arrangements be put in place to ensure that registered officials only service sanctioned competitions, where organisers have agreed on proper terms of service—including that provision be made for the supply of three match officials at least, along with security arrangements for said match officials.”

Ironically, Bishop is the appointment committee chairperson of the Referees Committee while Joseph Taylor is president of both refereeing bodies, which suggests that the principles of the Referees Association were instructing themselves in their capacities as Referees Committee executive members.

Wayne Caesar, who is head of the TTFA’s Refereeing Department—which is the implementation arm of the Referees Committee—went a step further, as he urged referees to stay away from minor league competitions altogether.

Photo: WASA FC captain Cleveland Cambridge (third from left) and Kevon Henry (centre) lead the complaints to referee CJ O’ Brien after he awarded a penalty to FC Santa Rosa during TTSL One action in St Joseph on 9 July, 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

“On behalf of the Department, I sent out a communique to our referees that they should not referee in any league that is not sanctioned by the TTFA,” Caesar told Wired868. “[And] I wrote all our zones and told them not go back to the [La Brea] league. But right now, we are concentrating on the [health of the official].”

Wired868 understands that the two teams involved in the La Brea Off Season Football League match were Gonzales United, which featured ex-Trinidad and Tobago international Hughtun Hector, and Young Stars, which boasted several current Secondary School Football League (SSFL) stand-outs like Naparima College playmaker Judah St Louis and the Presentation College (San Fernando) duo of Jordan Riley and Omri Baird.

Gonzales were leading 1-0 with 10 minutes remaining when London awarded them a penalty.

The Young Stars defender who was penalised, according to an eyewitness, pushed London and was shown a straight red card. Then another player allegedly slapped the referee and all hell broke loose, as players, management and supporters supposedly rushed in to join in the attack.

Since minor league organisers usually hire only one trained official for matches—in an attempt to cut costs—London found himself at the centre of a field invasion and did not even have the support of colleagues.

Photo: Presentation College (San Fernando) winger Jordan Riley (centre) tries to escape the attentions of a Naparima College opponent during SSFL action at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella on 27 September, 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

The match was subsequently abandoned while the second match of a double-header at the venue never kicked off.

One video clip of the incident showed London being attacked near to the street as hooligans rushed to join in the melee and spectators wondered loud whether he would survive the assault.

In another clip, patrons pelt London with plastic bottles while a spectator is seen wielding a cutlass—some eye witnesses claimed that the cutlass belonged to London who reached for it when he was attacked, only to have it taken from him. Both the referee’s arms were restrained, which prevented him from fighting back, while he was at one stage held in a headlock.

Fortunately, London did make it out alive and is in a stable condition at the San Fernando General Hospital.

The TTFRA believes that the refereeing community should continue to support minor league football—but only if certain conditions are met to ensure a safe work environment for officials.

“While match officials understand their role in supporting activities which bring about overall improvement to community life,” stated Bishop, “the community itself has to understand that it has to protect these members who serve them.”

At present, minor league competitions offer the only competitive adult football in the country and Soca Warriors coach Dennis Lawrence admitted that even national players are taking part.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago assistant coach Stuart Charles-Février (second from left) has a word with head coach Dennis Lawrence (centre) during training at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 15 April 2018.
(Copyright Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

For officials, it is a chance to earn some extra money until the local domestic competitions get going again. Already four months into 2018, there has been no activity yet from the Pro League, Trinidad and Tobago Super League (TTSL) or zonal competitions.

Callum Marshall, an executive member of the La Brea football committee, offered apologises to London and vowed to cooperate with the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) in its investigations.

“We would like to issue a sincere apology to Mr Michael London, his family and the Trinidad and Tobago Referee Association by extension,” stated Marshall. “We stand by you at this difficult point in time Michael London. A full investigation into this matter has been launched by the league in conjunction with the TTPS from which we expect a swift and just outcome.”

However, Caesar suggested that minor league competitions, which fall outside the umbrella of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA), are just not worth the risk.

“They are going at their own risk,” said Caesar. “If you prefer to go for $100 and your life is at stake, then I can’t hold your hand. Everybody’s big [enough to make their own decisions].

“I give my own advice as to what you should or shouldn’t do. If they go contrary to that, I can’t be held responsible.”

Photo: Wired868 managing director Lasana Liburd (far left) leaves the field after welcoming referees (from left) Roger Smith, Clinton Lewis and Clint McMillan for the Wired868 Football Festival at UWI on 6 January, 2018.
(Copyright Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Trinidad and Tobago Football Referees Association statement:

It has come to the attention of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Referees Association that spectators at a minor league match played in La Brea on Thursday 19 April violently attacked the referee who officiated at the match. This cowardly attack resulted in said match official having to be hospitalised from his injuries.

The TTFRA hereby strongly advise that the TTFA Referees Committee instruct match officials to immediately cease providing referee service to this particular league. Also that suitable arrangements be put in place to ensure that registered officials only service sanctioned competitions where organisers have agreed on proper terms of service, including that provision be made for the supply of three match officials at least along with security arrangements for said match officials.

We hope for a full and speedy recovery of the referee and trust that the necessary punitive action will be taken by the relevant authorities against the perpetrator/s of this dastardly and criminal act.

While match officials understand their role in supporting activities which bring about overall improvement to community life, the community itself has to understand that it has to protect these members who serve them.

Photo: Referee Neal Brizan (right) cautions Central FC goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams for dissent during a Pro League encounter against W Connection in the 2014/15 season.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

TTFA Refereeing Department statement:

Please be advised that a referee was brutally assaulted in the La Brea Football League last night, 19 April 2018, which resulted in the referee being hospitalised with serious injuries.

The Refereeing Department is advising that any referee who officiates in leagues that are not sanctioned by the Refereeing Department and the Referees Committee are doing so at their own risk.

The Refereeing Department is advising that referees should not officiate in the La Brea Football League as this is not a competition sanctioned by either the Refereeing Department or the Referees Committee.

Please be guided accordingly.

Photo: (From left) San Juan Jabloteh’s Tyrone Charles, Caledonia AIA’s Nathan Lewis and Kareem Joseph await the verdict of match referee Tricia Des Vignes during 2014/15 Pro League action.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

La Brea Off Season Football League statement:

We, the organising committee of the La Brea Off Season League, would like to make it clear that the unfortunate incidents of last night, Thursday 19 April 2018, which has been circulating via social media are not in keeping with the high standards we always strive to maintain in our community league and is in no way a reflection of our league and our community.

We would like to issue a sincere apology to Mr Michael London, his family and the Trinidad and Tobago Referee Association by extension. We stand by you at this difficult point in time Michael London.

A full investigation into this matter has been launched by the league in conjunction with the TTPS from which we expect a swift and just outcome.

At this time please understand for purposes of the investigation we will reserve any further comments.

We will release more information and or a statement in the near future.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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97 comments

  1. I wonder if any bandit or drug man ever get licks so in La Brea?

  2. “On the day we were wrong Yes! But that dont give the referee a right”
    What does the mean really?

  3. Based on Devon London’s FB post, apparently some of the alleged perpetrators were on TV-6 denying their involvement…any updates or video on that please?

    • Nah man Lasana man, Joel didn’t handle it like that! I believe you but I was trying to find the footage, without success.

    • Essentially in the TV6 interview, one player said that he merely asked the referee a question and the referee butted him and started attacking people.
      It was an absurd account of what happened. And at the end of it, Joel Villafana said “Case closed.” Them really good yes. Lol.

  4. Hearing and seeing all kind of things about my side Young Starz but such is life. People will try to break you b4 they guide u and make u a better person. In life each & everyone does something wrong as small as it might be and the out come is they try to be wrong and strong most times. On the day we were wrong Yes! But that dont give the referee a right. He had his part to play in this entire event and for every action there is a reaction. My players are young talented players with a future so b4 you say the worst about them think about yourself because no man is perfect

  5. This just shows what a country come to when you just have no enforcement of anything at any level…pay attention to the ages of those who are starring weekly now in horror news from murder to rape, to this type of assault.

    • The incident speaks for itself,this happened at a community venue,and community football league.Mr London, is a respected member of the football fraternity. This appears to be deeper than it looks.

  6. Bans are not enough…the identified attackers ought to be jailed.

  7. I hope the referees association and all referees taking note of these comments and the mental thinking of certain individuals it is obvious that there are folks out there that are clearly of the view that is somehow acceptable for a mob of supporters or villagers to hospitalize an official if things were to get physical regardless of whosoever was at fault or initiated the incident. So be vigilant out there it not easy in this times make sure when yuh jump out its in a controlled environment.

  8. After reading all the comments I think this incident needs to be properly investigated, don’t be to quick to put down the villagers/ referee without knowing the whole truth.

  9. Remove them from any football roster and charge them with assault.. jail time is what they deserve.

  10. That was so totally uncalled for.

  11. I am so ashamed and saddened by the actions of these young men

  12. If allyuh dont know d while story all of allyuh who commenting should shut up….. why them aint say he head butt d player first? And went on to pull a blade which caused the whole community to retaliate??? Y’all should get your facts right before commenting nonsense

  13. Indiscipline in Trinidad and Trini football? Unheard of

  14. Trinidadian so stupid ehh this is and minor football league and look how they reacing towards it thats why Trini football looks so weak and combersom it’s not the money inno it’s the people reaction

  15. Why they leave out the rest of the story… The red was issued… The player as it usually goes was arguing with the referee at the decision… The referee proceeded to push the player… So he push him back… Then the referee head bot the defender causing his team mate to come help quell the situation then the referee proceeded to push the player who was simply mediating and happens to be a well known and respected youth in LA brea causing the whole team and community to retaliate… They won’t say that… The referee even went to his van for a cutlass…. They won’t put that in the post… Come on… All that fight we like… To beat a referee just so…. Think people… The media always feeding us garbage

  16. The players come from your community, they are a reflection of your community.

  17. What allyuh feeding dem ppl in La Brea?

  18. Let them play football in the jail. What shit is This. Sport is a DISCIPLINE. People tend to forget that. Charges should be pressed and the Referee should sue….pure madness

  19. A new low for football .. Very sad. Hope the official recovers with no permanent damage and there should be severe consequences for all involved. Clubs and individuals.

  20. Sadly, given the attitudes displayed by many spectators, coaches and even players towards referees at local matches over the past few years, to me, this was forseeable. Sometimes at matches the level of verbal abuse launched at referees for their decisions (good or bad but mostly viewed as bad) displayed a lack of respect. Some coaches even tell their players that the “referee tiefing”. This creates nothing but acrimony towards the officials. Sadly, the players and others resorted to violence (which, given the state of our society as guaged from reading the news headlines faily, seems to be the way the average joe deals with situations when upset).
    Ban all involved after an inquiry!

  21. I am concerned that no body tried to protect the Referee.

  22. Those who are identified must be banned for life from the football field in any capacity.

  23. They should be ban for this Behaviour.Not to be encouraged.Copy Cats abound.

  24. The old people say since in the days of train once yuh go skinnier park to play and things ent go smoothly prepare for big stone and bottle. Certain areas the passion different.

  25. The referee looked for it if you ask me

  26. The referee attack the young man with a blade

  27. So how dey eh put he hit first an went in he van for a Cutlass to chop ppl

  28. La brea is pnm an they following d footsteps of pnm leader

  29. If you cannot be disciplined don’t play the game

  30. Wired…delete this please it’s totally wrong…why did u not mention the referee attacked with a cutlass

  31. So a red card made them cause hurt to someone else? Oh ok Maybe they should learn to play correctly so they don’t get a red card..

  32. So. In other words, a referee got Jumped?!

    He could press charges on the team, all players by name, and their parents if under 18 and living by them.

    I am all about letting people pay for their actions.