By Mark Baber
September 27 – Football is due to return to Uruguay this weekend after an incident at a youth match involving the beating of two referees led to the suspension of all games on Sunday.
On Saturday, during an U-19 game between Platense and Basáñez a referee named Carlos Roca who was sitting in the crowd tried to bring to the attention of officials a ten year old boy who had begun throwing rocks on to the pitch after two players were sent off.
The boy’s father took exception to Roca’s action and launched an assault with about 20 others joining in. Roca’s girlfriend, Anahí Fernández, who was one of the match officials, saw what was happening and ran off the pitch to try and break up the fight, eventually using her body to shield Roca from further attack, but being hit herself by Platense players in the process.
Neither Roca nor Fernández were seriously injured, although both required medical treatment.
After a string of recent attacks, the incident was the straw which broke the camel’s back for the Referee’s Association who announced a suspension of all activities for Sunday, with the Uruguayan Football Association (AUF) suspending all games.
The incident was caught on camera and the backlash has led to arrests and 12 Platense players and at least one Basáñez player have been sacked for their roles in the incident.
In the aftermath of the incident, Luis Suarez, somewhat ironically, stepped up to declare on Twitter: “No more violence in football, let’s live a football in peace and without violence, enjoying this beautiful sport in our country. Let’s respect everyone.”
After the AUF and Referees Association met and agreed on new rules to govern youth player it was announced that games would resume this coming weekend.
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