Football referee suffers extensive injuries after violent assault

A hospital bed
A hospital bed

A referee has suffered "extensive injuries" after a violent assault over a football match in Co Offaly.

The match official Daniel Sweeney, who is aged in his 50s, sustained a broken jaw and an eye socket injury when a disturbance broke out in the car park of a football ground in Horseleap.

Mr Sweeney was taken to Tullamore hospital by ambulance for treatment after a match between Horseleap and Mullingar Town.

Gardai have confirmed they are investigating the incident, which happened at around 1pm on Sunday afternoon.

Officers from Tullamore were called to the scene at a football club in Horseleap after a game in the Combined Counties Football League near the Westmeath-Offaly county boundary.

Chris Hand, secretary of the Combined Counties Football League, told RTE Soccer that the level of violence perpetrated on Mr Sweeney has shocked the community.

"Daniel has been a referee for a number of years and he's a good man," he said.

"The referee's report will be with us in the next few days or so, the individuals involved have been identified, they (have) immediately been suspended from all football activity.

"We will follow FAI procedure in relation to how we handle incidents like this.

"We will follow up with the strongest action we can. I think what has surprised everybody about yesterday was the level of violence.

"There is no place for this in sport, in any sport."

News of the assault first broke on social media, when one football fan tweeted: "One of our Referees in Midland Branch today after a game was viciously attacked by players this should not be tollarted (sic) at all we as Referees doing a job no REF no game" with pictures of Mr Sweeney's injuries.

The tweet quickly went viral with football fans expressing outrage and disgust at those involved.

A Gardai spokesman said: "No arrests have been made to date and inquiries are ongoing.

"Anyone with information is asked to contact Tullamore Garda Station 057-9327600."