Referees to take no-nonsense approach

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The Antigua & Barbuda Football Referees Association (ABFRA) will be taking a zero tolerance approach to both verbal and physical abuse against its members during the 2017/18 domestic season.
The warning comes as the Antigua & Barbuda Football Association’s (ABFA) season is set to kick-off on  September 24, with the President’s Cup at venues across the island.
President of the referees’ association, Audwin Walsh, said all matters of abuse will be treated with the highest level of seriousness.
“Personally, I am not going to and I would not even suggest to any of our referees take any threat lightly. This sport has become so commercialized that right now you have to be so careful when officiating matches so personally, I treat these things very seriously so I am admonishing our referees to be very good managers of this game,” he said.
“I think we would have taken it lightly and sometimes we would have compromised but when does it stop? I am admonishing our team to be very vigilant and to report any instances of physical abuse,” he added.
Technical Instructor and Treasurer of the ABFRA, Garfield Whaul, who has been a victim of physical abuse on the field, believes that the local governing body should do more to deter would be perpetrators.
“I think there are times that the matter may not go towards a legal route but the players, they are sanctioned very lightly and I think that if the penalties are harsher then players are going to desist from that. When a player hits a referee and gets one year that’s a no for me,” he said.
According to Walsh, the footballing public is also in for a treat as a number of fresh faces will be on show during the 2017/18 season.
“As we speak, I can speak to at least three or four new persons who joined days ago so I think that refereeing is on the rise. Suffice to say, we need to do some more ground work. We need to go out into the community, the schools even the business community to educated persons about the benefits of being an official,” the president said.
The Premier Division is slated to start mid-October with the FA announcing new monetary incentives for teams competing in the top tier.
Winning teams will receive $1000 per match while teams will receive $500 for a draw. Losing teams will walk away empty-handed. 
First and Second Division teams will no longer be responsible for the marking and cutting of their fields as this will now be the FA’s responsibility.

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