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UPSL playoff match abandoned after coach punches referee

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A United Premier Soccer League playoff game was abandoned after a referee assault in Maryland on Saturday, the latest in a long line of referee abuse stories.

A player from Mass United had been shown a red card, and a member of the club’s coaching staff punched the referee.

UPDATE: The league released a statement condemning the incident and vowing to stand with its referees.

The match between Mass United and World Class Premier FC (Maryland) was a Northeast Championship match, and would send a winner to the UPSL’s national finals in Miami.

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The match was tied at 1 around halftime when the referee stopped play after a foul led to a skirmish between players.

According to a source, the referee mistakenly removed a red card from his pocket when he meant to show a yellow. Before the referee could correct himself, an assistant coach punched him in the face. The game was abandoned and the win awarded to World Class Premier.

The UPSL is considered to be the fourth-tier of the American Soccer Pyramid and is sanctioned by the United States Adult Soccer Association.

EDIT: An earlier post said the UPSL was in the fifth-tier of the pyramid. The league was given higher sanctioning earlier this Fall.

Referees in Berlin protested increased incidents of violence earlier this year, while Franck Ribery and Neymar have both been suspended for making contact with officials. In 2014, an American referee was killed after a player punched him in the face after a red card incident. The player was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Here’s how it looked from the local angle in Maryland, with The Montgomery County Sentinel reporter Carlos Alfaro Rodriguez on scene. He confirmed the incident with ProSoccerTalk.

Referees in Berlin to strike over violence at soccer games

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BERLIN (AP) Soccer referees in Berlin are going on strike because of ongoing violence at games.

The Berlin soccer federation, known as the BFV, said Friday it has been informed by its referee committee that the officials are withdrawing their services this weekend from all games in the sixth division, the highest level in the German capital.

[ MORE: Pulisic may start at Burnley ]

“Violence on Berlin’s soccer fields has gone up this season compared to last season,” the referees said in a statement quoted on the BFV’s website. “After just a few match-days we have already recorded 109 incidents of violence and discrimination on Berlin soccer fields. In 53 cases the referee was the victim. These are alarming numbers. Action is needed, and a clear sign to stop.”

The refs are receiving support from league leader Sparta Lichtenberg.

“It’s about time someone bangs their fist on the table,” Lichtenberg president Werner Natalis told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper. “Lately I’ve seen again and again how referees are abused and almost physically attacked.”

It was unclear if Sunday’s 11th round of games would go ahead. Clubs had the option of agreeing on impartial officials from within their own ranks.

“In any case,” BFV spokesman Ralf Kisting said, “we won’t be making any referees available.”

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Sunday league in New York rallies around assaulted referee

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I had to share a nice, feel-good moment from my neck of the soccer woods on this fine Sunday in July.

It starts with something heinous, though.

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Let’s begin here: The Buffalo District Soccer League (BDSL) is an 81-team men’s league in Western New York. It also conducts the Tehel Cup, the oldest amateur cup tournament in the United States.

Unfortunately, this post is about neither of the positives associated with those facts, as last weekend saw a player lose control after receiving a red card. The player in question hit referee Mike Crane, leaving the official with a head injury.

It’s not the first time we’ve written about referee assault; Unfortunately, typing the phrase “referee dies” in the PST search tool brings up multiple entries.

Yet the incident understandably caused a stir in the Buffalo soccer community, as the BDSL rallied around Crane and its officials.

Clubs assembled before their matches to take photos with the referee units, tagging each on Twitter with the hashtag #UnitedForCrane.

Let’s hope this post serves as a reminder to all weekend warriors and professional players alike: It’s still just a game.


Epic fail: Soccer refs banned after match-fixing goes wrong

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BLANTYRE, Malawi (AP) Four soccer referees in the southern African country of Malawi have been banned for life for match-fixing after they received just $20 between them to fix a game and returned $15 to the team doing the bribing because it still lost.

Referee Aziz Nyirenda, assistant referees Limbani Chisambi and Stephano Gomani, and fourth official Jimmy Phiri, were all found guilty of fixing a national cup match between lower league team Nchalo United and Chitipa United.

[ MORE: Klopp finds it hard to criticize his Reds ]

The match-fixing was revealed after Nchalo United, the team that bribed the refs, lost in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw and demanded its money back. When the referees could only stump up $15, Nchalo went to the authorities.

No sanctions have been announced against the team but there is a case against Nchalo pending.

The life ban for the four officials was announced by the Malawian referees association.

Although the result wasn’t what they were aiming for, Malawi National Referees Association general secretary Chris Kalichero said there was still an “element of game-fixing” by the officials and “when you commit such a crime, a life ban is the punishment.”

Chisambi, one of the assistant referees, denied wrongdoing, saying “”I never took (a) share of the money. It is so sad that my career has ended in this manner.”

Last year, another referee in Malawi was banned for life for incompetence.

MLS assistant referee comes out as gay in hope to help others

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Major League Soccer referee Matthew Nelson hopes being open about his sexuality helps others as much as it is helping him.

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Nelson came out of the closet to his friends and family earlier this summer, and the assistant referee is now sharing his story in case it helps someone else going through a similar struggle.

Nelson wrote about his decision at

Since coming out, I have been able to focus more on performing to the best of my ability as an assistant referee. It has freed my mind from the fear of what others will think. Most importantly, it has allowed me to be myself. The ability to be myself, without feeling the need to put on a façade, is truly freeing. In the past month, I have begun openly dating an amazing man who I now proudly call my partner. Sharing with him my passion for refereeing soccer is truly fulfilling.

According to Nelson’s PRO page, he worked the 2016 MLS All Star Game and also a friendly between Manchester United and AS Roma. Entering this season, he had worked 67 MLS matches.