President of the La Brea Off-Season Football League, Gerald Debesette says the Young Stars football team that was involved in the violent beating of referee Michael London last Thursday has been kicked out of the competition.
In an interview yesterday, Debesette apologised to London and the Football Referee Association (TTFRA), describing the brawl as an unfortunate since the league’s purpose was to expose the talents hidden in the community. He said that when the players involved in the brawl are identified, they too will be penalised. He said the league’s committee will be meeting soon to discuss the length of the ban, not only for the team, but for the players who may want to return next season with another club.
On Thursday, London was officiating over a knockout match between two league newcomers, Gonzales United and Young Stars of La Brea at the Brighton Recreation Ground in Point D’or. During the second half, Gonzales United was leading 1-0 when London awarded them a penalty kick and issued a red card to a Young Stars player. Upset with the call, the Young Stars players surrounded the referee, which led to a scuffle.
Debesette said that because the league officials were on the other side of the field, they could not tell what was happening and by the time they reached and attempted to quell the incident, spectators had swarmed the pitch.
When London escaped and went to his vehicle, it was alleged that he was going to report the incident to the police. However, one of the Young Stars players pulled him out the vehicle. It was at that time London picked up a blade. The spectators rushed across, disarmed London and severely beat him.
Debesette said it was when a plain-clothed police officer saw the brawl and fired a shot in the air that the crowd dissipated. London was taken to the San Fernando General Hospital where he was treated. By the time La Brea police arrived, the area was mostly clear. Up to yesterday, South Western Division police said they had not received a report from London. He said while there is no security for the matches, police patrol regularly.
The incident led to the TTFRA advising that the Football Association’s (TTFA) Referees Committee instruct match officials to immediately cease providing referee service to the La Brea league. It also advised that registered officials only service TTFA sanctioned competitions. Debesette said the league was not registered with the TTFA and employs referee services through one of its committee members.
“It is an unfortunate situation in that it was a knock out game of the La Brea Off-Season Football League which is in its fourth year. From what I have heard, the referee may take legal action against the players because he was able to identify five of them who attacked him. I apologised to referee association and the individual. It is unfortunate that after eight years of building a brand that one incident can set us back.”
The league continued over the weekend as it grinds down to the finals.