LA BREA Football League committee member Callum Marshall yesterday described the players and spectators who attacked referee Michael London on Thursday night as hooligans, terrorists and criminals.
Marshall, speaking to Newsday yesterday, said the league stands in support of London but believes stopping the football to show solidarity would not be the right move.
“Football hooligans must not win,” he declared.
London was allegedly attacked by players and fans during a match between Gonzales United and Young Stars on Thursday night after he awarded a penalty to Gonzales United who were already ahead 1-0. London was cuffed and kicked repeatedly before he was saved by an off duty police officer.
London was admitted to the San Fernando General Hospital after receiving injuries to his face and ribs, then moved to the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex in Mount Hope.
He was released from hospital on Friday and is now at home but is traumatised and nursing his wounds.
The Trinidad and Tobago Football Referees Association (TTFRA) and London’s wife have said the continuation of the league is disrespectful to London.
Marshall does not agree.
He said, “I visited him on Friday and I echoed the league’s sentiments that we are fully standing behind him...we already threw the team out of the league and the players who have been implicated in this horrific act are going to be banned from the league for life. Once we have a league, those players can’t come back with that team or no other team, we don’t want any part of them.”
Marshall said if the league stops, the community will suffer because of a few unruly people.
“If we stop the league then we allow the detractors, these hooligans, these football terrorists as we want to call them, these criminals, to win. When we stop the football, who is going to win? They will — not the community, not the scores of vendors who come out and make a livelihood off the crowd that is there.”
Marshall said the La Brea League will learn from this situation because the community leagues are valuable to TT football. “We are trying our best and we are not perfect. We have a lot to learn still, because in terms of football, eight years is a young league. We are trying to learn from our mistakes and our shortcomings and build upon it, because we have young players who are honing their skills. There is not a player in TT who has played at the international level that does not start off in their community league.”
With official referees withdrawing their services since London’s injury, Marshall has been refereeing all the games since then with volunteers carrying out linesmen duties.
He said the league will take a tremendous financial hit because of what transpired.
“This league is not a sponsored league by any big company...After this incident, we will be under pressure because sponsors and benefactors will not want to attach their name to what happened.”
Marshall called for respect for all referees as they are as passionate about the sport as players and are paid sometimes just $100 per game.
The league will continue tonight from 8 pm at La Brea Recreation Ground, before continuing on Thursday and Friday.