Two men aged 27 and 29 handed themselves into León police on Tuesday after a 16-year-old referee overseeing a six- and seven-year-olds’ soccer match was assaulted over the weekend.
The teenage referee had to be taken to a local hospital after the father of one of the players, with the help of another man who held the youth down, allegedly hit him in the eye and punched him in the ribs after a game between the Bosco B and San Andrés teams.
A medical examination determined that the young referee may have suffered damage to his cornea as well as possible broken bones in his face.
“Apart from the physical pain, what was striking was the way he was shaking from fear,” said José Antonio Martínez Alas, president of the León soccer referees association, who accompanied the youth to hospital.
Police identified the assailants through a series of cellphone camera shots taken after the incident. “After he calmed down he told me: ‘I’m coming back next week,’ which made me think there was going to be more trouble,” Alas said.
After he calmed down he said: ‘I am coming back next week”
The young referee, who is a Moroccan national, had passed all the training courses he took at the León school for soccer referees between October and December of last year. “Even though he had some problems with the language, he passed his courses with flying colors,” said Alas.
After making their statements, the two men were released, pending the transfer of the case to the relevant court.
This is not the first time the association has had trouble. About two weeks ago, three of its referees had to ask for police and Civil Guard protection during their matches. Association officials have said they will not send any of their referees to this weekend’s local matches to protest the escalating violence.
Both Bosco and San Andrés have expressed their solidarity with the association. “The actions of one individual do not represent the true values of the entire team,” they said in a statement.