'F*cking faggot', 'f*cking cabbage' and people saying they'd wait for me in car park: Referee details abuse at underage game

Harry McCann on Claire Byrne Live

A young referee has highlighted the abuse aimed at him while officiating an underage soccer game.

Harry McCann, 20, told Claire Byrne Live that he had been called "a f*cking faggot" among other things while walking off the field.

McCann is a referee in the Kildare Underage Soccer League and was officiating an U15 game at the weekend when "an incident occurred and all hell broke out".

He said parents, spectators players and managers all reacted negatively to a decision he made resulting in a "serious amount of abuse from everybody".

He said the abuse came "from one side in particular; the other side didn't have an issue at all."

McCann said that personal abuse was "very clearly" aimed at him and it got to a point where he had to abandon the game because it got so serious, "mainly due to parents on the sideline".

McCann said abuse from adults on the sideline fuels abuse from players on the pitch.

Warning: Strong language in the video below.

"The two comments, I suppose, that sparked it off - the first one, which was a player called me a "f*cking faggot" while walking off the pitch and then a manager called me a "f*cking cabbage".....which was quite an interesting statement, but both obviously very serious," said the referee.

When asked if he felt threatened, McCann said he did.

"As I walked off the field there was people saying they'd wait for me in a car park afterwards and there was people very, very aggressive and coming up quite close and personal...As I've mentioned before, it does happen...It's happened before and it continues to happen."

A poll carried out by the TV show revealed that 92% of people think pushy or aggressive parents at underage games should "be sin-binned and kept away from the sidelines".

When asked by Byrne why he would continue to referee games, McCann said it was because of his love for the sport.

"I love being involved in the football, I love being involved. And if I'm not there the match doesn't go ahead," he said. "There's a shortage of officials across the country. People, funnily enough, don't want to be abused on a football pitch by adults.

"I want to be involved in the game and I want the kids to have a good time."

McCann added that "of course there are going to be bad situations. A lot of them are good but there's far too many bad situations recently and that needs to be highlighted."

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