An amateur referee has praised a football team for confronting one of their own players when he returned to the pitch brandishing a knife.
The match between Heroes and Railway Academicals in Southend last Saturday was abandoned as a result of the incident. Essex Police are investigating the incident.
Referee Paul Bahbout told talkSPORT: “There was a minor confrontation not even worthy of a yellow card and play was re-started with a drop ball. That is always the end of it. But in this instance it wasn’t the end of it.”
Witnesses have described how a player went to the touchline briefly before returning with a blade in his hands.
Mr Bahbout believes he was not the target, but said both teams took responsibility.
“They got involved and helped to diffuse the situation – the suspect’s team especially. They were the first ones to surround him. If they had moved away as opposed to moving towards him it would have been left to me to try to reason with him.”
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An Essex County FA Spokesperson said: “As this report was specific regarding the abandonment of the match, we have raised a charge against the individual involved and placed an Interim Suspension Order against them until such time as the case is considered.
“We are taking this matter extremely seriously and are working with the police to support their investigation, as well as providing the referee with ongoing support.”
After officiating more than 1,000 matches, Mr Bahbout said he was not shocked by what happened: “There will always be idiots in the game as long as football as played. There will always be two or three on every team that are problematic.”
The assault on Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish by a Birmingham fan has put the spotlight back on safety in the professional game.
Speaking to talkSPORT after that incident, Ref Support UK CEO Martin Cassidy said: “It happens to a player one weekend and everyone comes out of the woodwork saying how terrible it is.
“But this is happening at grassroots level once a week on a match official.”