Referees are tired of getting assaulted, boycott matches in protest

Brooks Peck
Dirty Tackle

For far too long, referees have quietly taken abuse -- both physical and verbal -- with the only punishment for such vile actions being suspensions and fines that don't seem to deter anyone. So referees in Albania have decided to fight back and say, "You guys want to punch us? Well then we're not going to work. Suck on that."

OK, so they didn't put it exactly like that, but are starting a boycott. From Reuters:

Albanian referees are to boycott this weekend's matches in the top-flight and lower leagues after referee Lorenc Jemini was attacked by officials and a player from the Laci club at the end of a match on Sunday.

Jemini was punched on the pitch after the final whistle, the match finishing in a 1-1 draw after visiting Kastrioti had scored a last-gasp equaliser.

"Our association took this measure to make the Albanian public and the soccer sector aware that such ugly events should not happen on our soccer pitches," the Referees association said in a statement on Friday.

The Albanian referees are doing this in addition to a six-point deduction and ruling that Laci must play the rest of their home matches this season at a neutral site with no supporters from the country's football association. Four members of the club were also banned for between one and two years, so it's clear that they think relatively stiff punishments by footballing standards just aren't working when it comes to demanding a basic level of humane treatment for refs.

In related news, Tom Henning Ovrebo, Howard Webb, Mike Dean and Martin Atkinson said they were going to boycott their duties in solidarity with the Albanian refs, but everyone just stopped photoshopping club shirts onto their bodies long enough to celebrate in the streets.