A Dunedin football referee has been banned from officiating for eight matches after being found guilty of racially abusing a spectator at a match earlier this month.
Footballsouth chairman Dougal McGowan yesterday confirmed a judicial hearing found the referee guilty of making a racially abusive comment to the spectator.
He declined to name the referee.
However, the Otago Daily Times has learnt the referee suspended is Dave Langley.
Mr Langley, who has the right to appeal the suspension, had no comment when he was contacted by the newspaper yesterday.
Mr Langley (57) is a referee with more than 15 years’ experience.
In the game at which the incident took place, a premier match between Grants Braes and Roslyn-Wakari at Ellis Park on June 2, Mr Langley handed out three red cards.
Mr McGowan said a Grants Braes player, who had been sent off the previous week, was watching the game when he was subjected to a racial comment from the referee.
Mr McGowan said there was still debate about exactly what Mr Langley said, but all parties agreed on the intent of the statement.
Mr Langley admitted to the judiciary he said words of “a certain nature”.
The player was standing with a group of people away from the coach and bench of the Grants Braes side.
Mr McGowan said under Fifa rules, the minimum suspension which could be given was five matches, but the panel hearing the case decided an eight-match ban was appropriate.
The incident occurred on June 2 and Mr Langley was stood down by Footballsouth later that week.
He had then refereed a division 2 game on June 9.
Mr McGowan said, legally, the referee was allowed at that time to continue with his duties because the hearing had not taken place and he was innocent until proven guilty.
He was not punished for refereeing when he had been stood down by Footballsouth.
Mr McGowan said there was no place in football for what was said by the referee.
“If you accept what was said in a football match then you are accepting it in society, and that is not good enough,” he said.
“Racial abuse is not right anywhere. We need to reflect what is right in society and what isn’t.”
He was disappointed it had occurred but such incidents were rare.