Violence leaves football referee injured (27/12/2010)

Local football officials threatened to boycott games in the domestic competition after crowd violence in the game between Nakhon Pathom and Si Sa Ket left referee Apisit Onrak severely injured.

The promotion play-off match between the two sides for a place in the country's top-flight division, Thailand Premier League, ended in a goalless draw. The result appeared more in favour of the visitors, Si Sa Ket, who will face an Air Force side, who are already out of contention for promotion, in their final match.

The melee started when Nakhon Pathom fans invaded the pitch at the end of the game and assaulted referee Apisit. Soon it became a free-for-all between two sets of supporters on and off the field. Dozens of visiting fans were sent to hospital in the latest crowd violence that has marred Thai football.

Chuchai Buaboocha, the head of referee's committee of the Football Association of Thailand, while condemning the incident, said the officials would boycott the matches if there was no guarantee to their safety.

"No one wants such incidents to happen. It shows Thai football has not moved anywhere from the past. We have a new body to evaluate the officials' performance and if they make a mistake in interpreting the rules, there is a punishment to that effect.

"The officials are talking about boycotting games if the authorities fail to come up with adequate measures to guarantee their safety. There is a meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) and everything will be clear then. I think the FAT and the home team should have done a better job with regard to security measures.

"I spoke to Apisit. He said he did not favour either side and that his conscious is clear. He insisted that he did not take a bribe as he didn't want to do anything that would tarnish his name as well as his family. The match commissioner also confirmed he did not make any wrong decisions during the game.

"He barely received Bt2,000 for officiating the game. It's such a paltry amount to risk one's life. He has already filed a criminal complaint for physical assault and will leave the matter to judiciary," said Chuchai.

Dr Vichit Yamboonrueng, the TPL president, confirmed there would be punishment to anyone found guilty in the incident.

"As the league organisers, I can guarantee that there would be sanctions against the guilty party in the meeting tomorrow. I can't say much at this stage as we need to collect more evidence," said Vichit.

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