Ref wrong to call game off, say rivals


Martin Fox has leapt to the defence of referee Steven Russell following criticism of his decision to abandon a Maccabi League match which turned violent.

The MGBSFL second division relegation tussle between Jewdinese and Catford & Bromley Maccabi turned sour following an altercation between Jewdinese’s Josh Burchhardt and Catford’s Nick Goodmaker.

We understand the off-the-ball incident escalated into a violent exchange, for which both players were sent off. While their pair tangled on the floor, players from both teams ran over to the fracas, with Russell confirming that some were trying to break it up, while others were involved in confrontations of their own.

The incident took place five minutes into the second half, with Jewdinese leading 6-2. But both clubs believe the match should have been completed.

Jewdinese chairman Jake Erlich said: “The referee was 100 per cent right to send off both players, but I strongly feel that the game was abandoned without a proper conversation being held.

"Both sets of teams were in good spirits and after the two players had been sent away from the pitch, I felt that the game should have carried on.

"I feel the ref called the game off too early and it was clear the incident was between only the two players who were sent off and no-one else."

Although Mr Russell, a referee for 39 years, declined to comment on the game, he confirmed that the match had been played in good spirits until the fracas took place.

Catford captain Adam Luria described the incident as “a storm in a teacup”. He said: “Tempers were running high, but by and large players from both teams were trying to restrain their respective teammates.

"We stood around chatting and joking after the game and were baffled as to why the referee chose to stop it.

"The individual players sent off will be rightly sanctioned and we’ll have to wait and see what happens about the outcome of the game.

"However, myself and Jake Erlich spoke to league chairman David Wolff to let him know that there was no ill-feeling between the two clubs whatsoever."

Referees secretary Martin Fox backed his official, and said: “Steven couldn’t identify the other players whom he believed deserved red cards, so he felt the most sensible thing to do was to abandon the game.

"No-one wants to see a referee call a match off, but he had no choice in this instance."

The outcome of the game, the first in the MGBSFL to be abandoned this season, will be decided at the league’s next management committee meeting.

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