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Assistant ref killed by thugs

Richard Nieuwenhuizen was a man who was doing what we all do as match officials, giving of his time to further the game that we all love and sometimes for very little or no reward.

Mr Nieuwenhuizen was acting as an assistant referee (linesman) for his local team, Buitenboys, on Sunday 2 December when he was attacked and brutally beaten and kicked by three teenage soccer players at a game in Holland. Although he managed to make it home he suddenly took ill and died the next day.

The three teenagers, aged between 15 and 16 years old, have been arrested and charged in connection with the incident

The football world is shocked and horrified by this senseless act of barbarism on an assistant referee, especially by players so young.

Just to make the situation even worse, Mr Nieuvenhuizen’s son was also playing in the same match.

There will be many questions raised following on from this incident and it would be wrong to score any points from this awful tragedy. However, it has to be said that the lack of respect for match officials, regardless of whether they are official or not, like this unfortunate man from a local club, needs to be taken on.

Young players are easily influenced by their more famous idols and the lack of respect that these overpaid prima donnas have for referees cannot be excluded from some responsibility for this kind of incident.

All too often we see children as young as ten or eleven emulating their idols by diving, screaming for penalties and generally behaving like hooligans when they don’t get the desired result from the referee.

  • Where did they learn this from?
  • Who are they copying?
  • Why are they behaving like this?

One thing’s for sure, they didn’t lick it off the ground.

It’s very simple. They see it day in and day out on television or at the grounds.

Only a few years ago Fifa brought in this “respect” programme to allow referees to officiate matches without being subjected to abuse by players, coaches or spectators.

Well let me tell you Mr Blatter – IT’S NOT WORKING - and if ever you needed proof, well here you have it.

This is not the first time that a referee or an assistant has been assaulted; it’s been happening for a long time and will continue until a clear and unambiguous message is sent out that it will not be tolerated.

From personal experience I know what it’s like to be assaulted. Yes, it happened to me and I’m sure I’m not alone.

I was assaulted in Umtata in South Africa by a fan who ran onto the pitch. Were it not for the timely intervention of the late Clarence Mlokothi, the former Kaizer Chiefs director, I shudder to think what would have happened.

I had another serious incident when the pitch was invaded in Tembisa by Orlando Pirates fans and I could have been seriously injured or even killed were it not for the excellent security provided by the PSL.

This is totally unacceptable and the perpetrators have to be brought to justice and the severest penalty handed down as a message and a warning to all that this kind of thuggery will not be tolerated.

The seriousness of the incident is even worse when you see the age of these players.

May I, on behalf of all match officials, extend my deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Mr Nieuwenhuizen. RIP.

Happy Whistling
Dr. Errol Sweeney
email: thehangingjudge88@gmail.com
Twitter: @dr_errol

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