A foul-mouthed “heat of the moment comment” aimed at a match referee led to a footballer being banned for over three months.
Lenham Wanderers’ Aaron Lee pleaded guilty to a Football Association charge of improper conduct against a match official after being accused of screaming at the referee over a controversial incident towards the end of their Kent County League game with Cinque Ports Reserves in September.
According to documents published by the FA, Mr Lee was reported to the association by the match official after he had felt threatened by the words used by the player, who was alleged to have “screamed abuse” at the referee, saying: “you are a f*****g k**b head” and followed by a comment in “an angry voice” of “you are very, very lucky that you are a f*****g referee today.”
The matter was investigated by the Kent FA and an official from the FA’s National Serious Case Panel was appointed to adjudicate on the case. Mr Lee accepted the charge.
The referee dismissed the player for using abusive and threatening language - although it was argued that a red card was never shown - and after the game the official said Mr Lee walked past, saying that he had “been emotional and did not mean it as it sounded.”
The Lenham secretary provided a statement, saying the player didn’t dispute his use of foul language, while making a “heat of the moment, sarcastic comment” which he regretted and apologised for after the match.
There had been controversy at the end of the game - which finished goalless - according to the Lenham official, who stated that a penalty had been awarded to their team with five minutes left to play and after angry complaints from opposition players, the referee blew his whistle before the penalty had been taken, with time still remaining.
The secretary noted that: “We are acutely aware of the shortage of referees and took the decision not to formally appeal his decision or criticise his performance.
“We do not condone inappropriate or abusive behaviour and would not excuse anyone putting another person’s safety at risk. I think his immediate apology demonstrates the player’s understanding of what is and is not acceptable”.
The player made a guilty plea and the club said that he sincerely regretted his actions, adding: “He was emotional, which is not uncommon, but did not deal with this in the appropriate way.
“As a club (we) do not condone any threatening behaviour towards any player, coach or match official. We have had our own conversations, not only with Aaron, but with all our senior players.”
In making a decision on the case, the FA report stated that “the intention behind (the comment) was to make the referee feel threatened, whether realistic of not.”
Mr Lee was suspended for 105 days from all football and ordered to complete an online education programme before returning to play while also being fined £60. The decision was subject to appeal.