PRESIDENT of the TT Football Referees Association and former FIFA official Osmond Downer was appalled after what unfolded in the Concacaf Nations League final between Mexico and USA, on Sunday. Downer commended TT assistant referee (linesman) Caleb Wales for acting swiftly to quell unruly players.
The match was also marred by unruly fans in Denver, USA.
During the match, fans threw bottles with American player Giovanni Reyna one of the players getting hit by an object. Reyna was struck while the Americans were celebrating near the corner flag after Christian Pulisic scored the winning penalty in extra time. USA won the match 3-2.
The match was also stopped briefly as fans used an anti-gay chant.
Downer told Newsday that local referees are trained to handle confrontation during a match.
“There is a special piece of training for confrontation,” Downer said.
In the closing stages of the match, a fight ensued between the two teams on the opposite side of where Wales was officiating. Wales quickly ran to assist referee John Pitti of Panama and the other assistant referee in an attempt to quell the situation.
Downer said Wales reacted quickly.
“If you notice he (Wales) was present. He ran from way over and that is training (learnt). The fourth official is not supposed to do that. He is not supposed to go on the field to help the referee control the situation.”
Downer said one of the jobs of the fourth official is to prevent the bench players from running on the field to join the fight.
Downer said the design of the stadium in Denver does not help the situation. He said the stadia in TT make it difficult for fans to throw objects on the field because the field is far from the stands.
Fans were mere metres away from the field on Sunday night making players easier targets when fans get rowdy.
“The corner flags where players have to go to stand up to take a corner kick are exposed as you saw last night (Sunday)…what happened when I went to a lot of tournaments there would have no spectators near to certain parts of the field at all.
“We don’t have that problem in Trinidad in our stadia. It was built properly where the field is far from the spectators. If you look at that field last night the spectators were within a stone’s throw of the field.”
Downer said when he was a FIFA referee assessor for a match in Costa Rica objects were thrown.
He said the match was stopped and an announcement was made that if it happens again the match will be abandoned.
“That was not done last night. It should have been done. It should have been stopped and then a warning goes to the spectators that if this continues the game will be abandoned.”