Police are appealing for information after a 17-year-old male sustained a head injury after being struck with the chain of a dog lead at football playing fields in north Belfast.
The PSNI said that shortly before midday on Saturday, it was reported that the youth had been assaulted by a man in his 30s.
Clarendon Park Playing Fields, in the Somerdale Park area, are run by Belfast City Council. A spokeswoman for the council said she was aware of the incident and that police are now investigating.
Belfast Health Trust said the 17-year-old was treated in hospital and discharged on Saturday.
A post on Facebook from the Crumlin Star FC Youth, based in nationalist Ardoyne in north Belfast, claimed one of their players “ended up with a busted head after a sectarian thug lashed him with a dog lead after a cup game”.
Police said they have not yet established a motive for the attack.
Sinn Féin councillor Gerard McCabe called on Belfast City Council to do more to prevent “sectarian” attacks on children playing football on council facilities.
PUP councillor Julie-Anne Corr has condemned the violence.
“There is no point getting involved in attributing blame, regardless of who was responsible, it is entirely wrong that there should be any violence between spectators at a local football game, never mind an Under 19s match,” she said.
SDLP MLA Alban Maginness said for “a grown man to target a young footballer is beyond contempt”.
In a statement, Clarendon Development Association said it met on Sunday with senior police officers – and will be seeking further meetings with Belfast City Council and the South Belfast Youth League.
The statement claimed that on the morning of the game, the groundsman had to remove Irish and Palestinian flags “which had been erected overnight at the entrance to the complex”, and that Clarendon representatives had witnessed the chanting of pro-IRA slogans.
The statement added that football was an important means of bringing people together – but that it was the “hangers-on who on occasions act irresponsibly and sully the good work which clubs are carrying out”.
The association urged all parties concerned to “act responsibly and to desist from public comment to enable investigations to be brought to a speedy conclusion”.