Stricter penalties for violent behaviour at sports

Soccer referee Khodr Yaghi is contesting charges he assaulted a woman at a pub.

Soccer referee Khodr Yaghi is contesting charges he assaulted a woman at a pub. Photo: AAP

A shocking attack on a western Sydney soccer referee has prompted a crackdown on violent behaviour at community sports events.

NSW Sports Minister Steve Kamper says the government is working with major codes, venue operators and community groups to investigate tougher penalties to protect volunteers and referees.

He has flagged potential lifetime bans from all sporting venues, sanctions against teams or clubs where individuals are allowed to be involved after being suspended as well as a campaign to encourage respectful behaviour.

With huge numbers participating in organised sport, the need for volunteers and referees had never been greater, Mr Kamper said on Wednesday.

The move comes weeks after Bankstown District Amateur Football Association introduced body cameras for referees after one of their own had his jaw broken by a suspended player.

The attack at the end of a match in Padstow broke Khodr Yaghi’s jaw in three places and knocked out three teeth, drawing widespread condemnation from the football faithful, politicians and wider community.

Mr Kamper said the “shocking and unacceptable” attack convinced him more needed to be done to stamp out violent behaviour at community sport.

“Our referees and volunteers deserve our respect but more importantly they deserve to be safe,” he said.

“Without volunteers there is no grassroots sport – we must do everything in our power to ensure they feel safe and respected.”


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