HAMILTON, Bermuda (CMC) — The Bermuda Football Association (BFA) was forced to post pone matches on Sunday after abuse hurled at a visiting Jamaican referee led to local officials withdrawing their services.
The referee — named by the Royal Gazette newspaper as Steffon Dewar — was abused by Devonshire Cougars players and fans as second-placed Cougars, the home side, beat rivals Devonshire Colts 3-1 in a Premier Division match at Devonshire Recreation Club on Saturday night, despite finishing the game with only nine men.
The volley of abuse came as the referee left the field at the end of the game after he had handed red cards in the second half to national team players Lejuan Simmons and Drewonde Bascome, whose cousin – Bermuda international Osagi Bascome – was stabbed to death just before Christmas.
Simmons, a 63rd-minute substitute, received his marching orders for using foul and abusive language towards the referee after he questioned his yellow card in the first minute of stoppage time for kicking the ball away.
Simmons had to be restrained by teammates during his protests after the final whistle, the Gazette said.
Bascome was sent off in the 50th minute for retaliation.
Officials also had alcohol poured on them from the upper balcony of the clubhouse as they made their way to their dressing room.
The decision was taken early on Sunday by the Bermuda Referees Association to withdraw the service of match officials — a move that impacted two games in both the Premier Division and First Division.
An e-mail sent out by the BFA confirmed that the matches had been postponed, but it has so far issued no statement on Saturday night's game.
Bermuda football has been hit by a shortage of officials, with dwindling numbers forcing many games to be postponed or rescheduled.
“We're down by nine officials right now; it's very, very bad,” one official, who was not named, told the Gazette.
“You can figure it out by the number of games that have been postponed every week over the past month.
“We may have enough to run three games; anything more than that and everybody starts doubling up.”