PRESIDENT of the Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) William Wallace has apologised to Lasana Liburd, after the journalist was allegedly attacked by a former member of the TT Football Association at the National Intercol Finals at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva, yesterday.
Liburd was allegedly attacked in the media booth of the stadium during the girls final between Pleasantville Secondary and Signal Hill. According to an eyewitness, words were muttered before the alleged attacker began cuffing Liburd about his head from behind. Media workers present raised an alarm and the attacker soon left the booth, leaving Liburd nursing injuries including a cut to his chin. Stadium security and police soon arrived and questioned Liburd about what transpired.
Wallace, speaking to Newsday today, said, "From our position, it is unfortunate that something like that happened at one of our games. We had all the security measures in place, but even with that, things do happen so we would just want to reach out to the alleged victim and say that from the Secondary (Schools League) point of view we are sorry for what took place."
Wallace, who spoke to Liburd following the situation, said the incident is now in the hands of the police. "From what I gathered, a report was made to the police...from our end I don't think there is too much we can do, it is now in the hands of the police," he said.
Wallace noted there was a strong police contingent at the match including Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith but did not expect any untoward incident to occur in the media box.
The Media Association of TT (MATT) today condemned the alleged assault. A press release by MATT said, "The Media Association of TT has been made aware of a disturbing incident involving a former member of the executive and freelance journalist, Lasana Liburd.
"This attack is said to have been initiated by someone who Mr Liburd had recently written an article about and initiated legal action against. MATT views this situation as unacceptable and unequivocally condemns the attack on any journalist performing their duties."
MATT said if someone is not pleased about what is written about them they should take the legal route.
"Citizens are reminded that freedom of the press is enshrined in this country's constitution and there are legal avenues of redress for persons who feel they are aggrieved by articles written about them. Physical attacks are not one of those avenues."
MATT said it is disappointing the attack took place where children were in attendance. "In MATT’s view, this matter has been made even worse as the attack occurred at an event in which school students were in attendance. Mr Liburd has reported the matter to the TT Police Service and we trust that it will be dealt with expeditiously in order to send a message that such acts will not be tolerated."