Bodden Town Football Club has been suspended from the Cayman Islands Football Association league after one of its players assaulted a referee during a match on Thursday evening. The incident occurred in a game against Academy at The Annex.
Referee Ben Whitty had ruled that a throw-in by Bodden Town be retaken and, with five minutes left in the game, Karl Solomon took the second throw-in, tossing the ball to Bodden Town’s goalkeeper Shakur Welcome. However, a linesman also ruled that that throw-in should also be retaken.
Welcome responded by throwing the ball near the linesman, at which point Whitty showed a red card to the Bodden Town keeper, to the outrage of fans. Welcome immediately protested, but that did not change the decision. The Bodden Town club had earlier expressed displeasure with the officiating, especially after one of their players was tackled in the box during the first half but no penalty was given.
In addition, the team was handed five yellow cards during the match and a goal was disallowed in the second half due to an offside call. Tempers flared on the field and in the stands following the issuing of the red card to Welcome. Whitty then called off the game in the 85th minute, resulting in a 1-0 win for Academy. He was walking off the pitch when he was struck to the ground by a Bodden Town player. Police were called to The Annex after the altercation. Whitty received treatment at the Cayman Islands Hospital and was later released.
This is not the first time an official has been attacked by Bodden Town players. An incident in an April 2016 match with Academy FC resulted in the hospitalisation of another referee.
Cayman Islands Football Association president Alfredo Whittaker told the Cayman Compass that CIFA had zero tolerance for such acts.
“Bodden Town is suspended as a club from participating in any league games, until the disciplinary committee makes a ruling or a decision in this matter,” said Whittaker. “CIFA has the responsibility of protecting players, officials and spectators and, in this instance, we will protect our officials from the barbarism and the cowardly attack from players. This incident will not go unpunished, I guarantee you that.”
Cayman Islands is scheduled to play Pakistan next month at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex in an international friendly. Whittaker said all national players involved in Thursday’s incident will not be representing the country in that match.
“All players that were involved in this disgraceful fight, or attack rather, on the referee that are a part of the Cayman Islands national team will be removed from the national team,” Whittaker said. “Obviously, if any players are suspended from the clubs, [they] would not be able to play with the national team. So, at this point, we’re meeting with the coaches to make decisions on that.”
While Bodden Town FC is suspended, the decision on the team’s future in the CIFA men’s league has yet to be decided. The disciplinary committee will meet before the start of this weekend’s games and, Whittaker said, a ruling is expected to be made by midweek.