Umpire walks off pitch after abuse

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 February, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 February, 2004, 12:00am

A top umpire walked out of a Premier League match at King's Park after being verbally and physically intimidated by a player. Pakistan Association left-wing Ashfaqullah Khan faces a lengthy suspension after 'severely intimidating' umpire John Stapley in a South China Premier League match against Hong Kong Football Club.

'John [Stapley] was visibly shaken and left the ground. He told me he was withdrawing as he could not continue anymore,' said Billy Dillon, vice-president of the Hong Kong Hockey Association, who was a spectator on Sunday.

Football Club were leading 3-1 midway through the second half when Khan, attempting to round a defender, ran into him. He was shown the yellow card, a penalty which means a three-to-five minute spell in the sin-bin. It is believed Khan reacted angrily and physically abused Stapley, resulting in the umpire pulling out the red card. Khan continued to remonstrate, which led to Stapley walking off the pitch. The match was abandoned 12 minutes before full-time.

'The player did not leave the pitch and he reacted badly. It is the first time I have seen a red card in my three years as a player in Hong Kong,' said Football Club captain and goalkeeper Andy Boulton.

Hong Kong captain Farouq Saeed, who plays for Pakistan Association, was also shocked. 'It is a huge shame,' he said. 'It is the first time I have seen something like this happen in 20 years of playing hockey in Hong Kong.'

HKHA marketing and media manager Simon Bach added: 'It was severe player intimidation following the yellow card.'

Stapley was unavailable for comment yesterday. But a senior hockey official said his report was expected today, after which the HKHA's disciplinary committee was expected to meet to decide what course of action to take. Khan automatically gets a two-match ban for the red card, but it is believed that he could sit out the rest of the season, if not longer.

'I was very surprised to see the red card,' said Boulton. 'But it was absolutely deserved. There is no justification for arguing with the umpire's decision. Right or wrong the umpire has the final say. It is good for local hockey that umpires are clamping down on dissent. But at the end of the day, it was an isolated incident.'

Boulton said he hoped the result would stand. 'We had the run of play. Throughout the match, which was one of the best-natured I have played in Hong Kong for a long time, I touched the ball only three times, showing how much we dominated play.'

Chris Marshall and Lincoln Churchill scored for Club in the first half with Jason Parry adding a third. Saeed scored Pakistan Association's goal from a penalty corner.

Meanwhile, Kowloon Cricket Club's young guns continued their resurgence in the second-half of the season by handing Shaheen their third consecutive defeat. KCC won 3-2 with Arif Ali once again at the helm. Shaheen were depleted with several key players missing, including forward Asif Ali.

Macau won 3-1 over SSSC at Taipa Stadium to push for a place in the top four and a berth in the season-ending Super League.