At the end of an U14 match in November 2021 a spectator abused a young female referee. She was in her first season as a referee and was abused while wearing the yellow armband that indicates that the referee is under the age of 18.
The referee received support from the Referee Department with report writing and from the Safeguarding team for her welfare. I investigated the incident, which had the referee report along with obtaining five statements from the opposition supporting the referee and reporting other abuse and threats.
The offending club denied the charge and requested a personal hearing. I ensured that the referee was supported throughout the hearing process and made sure she was comfortable with what would happen at the hearing and that we would follow the Young Persons protocols. This meant that the young referee would attend virtually with their parent alongside her for support and all questions would come through the chair of the panel. To make sure the referee was not intimidated all cameras were turned off apart from the Chair of the panel.
The referee was thanked for her attendance and I informed her of the next step in the process. After the hearing I received positive feedback from the referee's parent saying: "Thank you, we would like to know the decision please. As a parent I thought you were all very supportive with (name redacted) and made her feel at ease. Thanks."
The case was found proven and the club was sanctioned with a warning and fine. I am pleased to say this incident did not put her off refereeing and she has registered for the new season.