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ORGANISERS of the La Brea Football League have apologised but president of the TT Football Referees Association (TTFRA) Joseph Taylor, says it “cannot be business as usual” following the attack of a referee on Thursday night. Taylor is now calling for a more professional environment in football leagues throughout the country.

On Thursday evening, referee Michael London was allegedly physically assaulted by fans during a match between Gonzales United and Young Stars in the La Brea Football League. London awarded a penalty to Gonzales United when a few Young Stars players and fans allegedly expressed their frustration by attacking the referee.

London was admitted to the San Fernando General Hospital after receiving injuries to his face and ribs, before being moved to the Mount Hope Medical Complex. London was released from hospital on Friday and is now at home.

Taylor is thankful the injuries to London are not as serious as they thought. “He had some internal bruising, but nothing life threatening and up to yesterday (Friday) he was home resting. We heard about the bruising to the face which might be a hairline fracture, but the extent of the damage to the ribs or internal organs were not as we thought.”

On a local television channel last night, a La Brea Football League committee member apologized for the incident, saying, “We stand behind the referee and again we apologize to him openly and to our community.” The committee member said he is uncertain if London will take legal action against his attackers.

Another committee member said they are willing to take measures to ensure officials’ safety at games and plan to meet with the TTFRA. “From this incident we are looking at it as a learning opportunity and we have already taken some steps in order to ensure that something like this does not happen again.” The committee members said that the league plans to have more security present at matches. He said although official referees associated with the TTRFA might not officiate at any of their games, matches will continue with a referee from their area.

Taylor, asked if he believes referees in the league will boycott upcoming matches said, “It cannot be business as usual. You cannot have a game the next day after that kind of violence,” Taylor said.

The referees president is hoping organisers of the La Brea Football League will have discussions with them to try to ensure disagreements don’t reach this level again.

“These leagues are important in the development of football and communities within our country, but now we (TTFRA) must sit down with them (La Brea Football League) and enforce that we must look at professional and proper standards to ensure that the leagues can proceed, but we (must) understand that they also have a responsibility to ensure that professionalism (is being carried out).”

Taylor said someone’s eagerness to compete cannot lead to violence. “Passion must not lead to violence and continued abuse...we as referees have a position to fill also, and it must be respected and we must all adhere to proper standards and respect for all.”