Referee attacked during game

A TRAUMATISED Ipswich football referee today told how he was beaten in a racially aggravated assault during a match.

A TRAUMATISED Ipswich football referee today told how he was beaten in a racially aggravated assault during a match.

Magistrates sentenced Andrew Barber's attacker Munir Mughal to 200 hours of unpaid work and ordered him to pay �450 costs following his conviction.

Mughal, 30, of Felixstowe Road, Ipswich, was playing for Multiball an indoor five-a-side league when the assault occurred.

At his sentencing, prosecutor Shini Cooksley said there had been no suggestion of racial overtones before the game, for which Multiball's squad was made up of five Asian and two white men.

However, during the first half at the Indoor Cricket Stadium in Henley Road on November 20, a number of decisions given by Mr Barber annoyed the team.

Multiball's players became more aggressive towards the 23-year-old referee and the opposing team as the second half began.

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Ipswich magistrates heard the flashpoint came when Mr Barber awarded a free kick against Multiball. At that point Mughal became very aggressive and questioned the decision.

He squared up to Mr Barber and called him a four-letter swear word, before repeating it again prefixing it with the word “English”.

When Mughal was sent off, the Multiball substitutes shouted “Deck him, deck him now”. Mrs Cooksley said Mughal replied: “I will in a minute.”

He then grabbed Mr Barber round the throat and punched him, catching the referee with a glancing blow to the right cheek.

Mughal tightened his grip around Mr Barber's throat, before he managed to break free.

Mrs Cooksley said two of Mughal's teammates then threw punches at Mr Barber.

He was finally rescued by players from the opposition, before Multiball's team left shouting threats.

Dino Barricella, mitigating, said despite being Mughal's conviction, he still denied racially aggravated assault, although he did admit to a public order offence.

Mr Barricella said the incident happened in the heat of the moment and was born of out frustration. He stressed his client, who was also cautioned for actual bodily harm in 2003, maintained no racial comment was made.

After the hearing Mr Barber said: “I was more scared than anything else. He had me by the throat and I couldn't breathe. I tried to break the hold and I couldn't.”

Mr Barber said he felt very frightened and vulnerable after the incident, and gave up referring for three months as a consequence, although he had now taken it up again.

James Payne, football administration manager for Suffolk FA, said it would now consider taking action against Mughal, who must also pay Mr Barber �150 compensation.

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