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Have we lost it, T&T?
I was totally shocked and disgusted when I received a video on social media showing a referee being assaulted and badly beaten while doing a minor league game. A short while later, I saw more video footage of the referee being hunted by what I can only describe as a hooligan mob as they attacked him with full force. I thought to myself, what has happened to our society? Where have we as a people gone wrong? The killings, the robberies, the rapes, the incest, etc... What was this referee's crime to be beaten to a pulp by a bunch of savages? Because honestly, that is exactly how it looked.
What was this man's crime? He didn't physically rob anyone. He simply went to referee a minor league match in an area where he assumed that he would have been protected by the officials of the La Brea off-season football league.
Referee Michael London simply went there expecting to service the game to the best of his ability, enjoy the match and return to his loved ones unharmed. He was officiating in a semi-final game and when he gave a penalty against the Young Stars team and further sent off a player, all hell broke loose.
We have seen on many occasions when players and managers do not agree with a referee's decision(s), they surround the officials, often in a quite despicable manner, gesticulating that they were not happy with a particular decision or several decisions during the match; but that is usually as far as it goes. I remember in the English League a few years ago Paolo Di Canio shoved a referee to the ground after he was sent off and he immediately received a lengthy 11 game ban from all football by the English FA.
From all reports coming out of La Brea, the referee was pulled from his car, kicked, cuffed, and beaten with an object that the mob could have put their hands on. Now apparently this was not only supporters of Young Stars, but players as well and thankfully his life was only saved when an off-duty Policeman fired a gunshot in the air. He could easily have been left for dead which crawls my blood thinking that such a heinous crime has reached football. What absolute madness is this in our country and our beloved local football? These people have scarred the good name of La Brea - a community that is well known for its hospitality and the world famous pitch lake where tourists travel many a mile just to experience that “Eighth wonder of the world”. I have no doubts that the warm and friendly people of La Brea will be hanging their heads in shame at what some individuals have now done to the good name of their community and their football.
According to sources, the league is now running without Young Stars which is commendable but we must do better than this. I have not heard a word from the TTFA on an investigation into this entire sordid episode; not that I expected anything from the TTFA because it's not good news and none of them would be posing for photos. They probably would be hiding behind the fact that this is a minor league, not a TTFA sanctioned competition so they would not need to get involved. However, it is football and some of these players may well be playing in TTFA competitions.
I would have thought that by now the TTFA would have asked for a list of the Young Stars team, and been working together with the Police and the La Brea officials to identify the culprits from the team and the spectators and ban them for life from ever playing football again in this country. It is very easy for a change of name or club and these very players can be playing next year for 'Young Giants' for example, so we must rid the system once and for all of these people who play and say they love the beautiful game. As for the spectators, when they are found out to be culpable, post their pictures at all stadia and ban them from ever entering a football game again in this country. It is not difficult to do, it is something done by the various clubs throughout the world and I am sure if the TTFA asks for help from these professional clubs worldwide, they would be more than willing to share the information.
I can say with certainty that most of us have questioned referees' and umpires' decisions but at the end of the day, they are the people in charge and they have a right to be respected; without them, there is no game and when a match can reach the ugly scenes that we witnessed in La Brea last week, those who are in authority must act swiftly and positively as our society will continue to decay unless we clean up the mess at all levels.
To Referee Michael London and his family, I sincerely apologise to you on behalf of all right-thinking sport-loving people of T&T, and I wish you a speedy recovery so you can take to the field again.
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