U12 sport abuse to spark A-League bans in new crackdown

·2-min read

Abusing referees or volunteers in community sport could lead to bans from attending AFL, NRL or the A-League.

Major codes, venue operators and community groups are being consulted in a government-led review to investigate tougher penalties to protect volunteers and referees, NSW Sports Minister Steve Kamper said on Wednesday.

High on the agenda was stopping "violent thugs" from code-hopping and ensuring bans had a wider effect than specific competitions, such as junior leagues.

It follows a spate of referee abuse that culminated in a violent attack on a western Sydney soccer referee that broke his jaw.

"If you're abusive at the under 12s, we won't let you into the A-League," Mr Kamper told parliament on Wednesday.

Everything is on the table, he later told reporters, including potential lifetime bans from all sporting venues, body cameras for referees and sanctions against teams or clubs where individuals are allowed to be involved after being suspended.

"But I don't want cameras just so we can watch these incidents occur," Mr Kamper said.

"We want to get on the front foot with this and be proactive in breaking down that culture and stop it from happening in the first place."

A campaign to encourage respectful behaviour would also be considered as well as facial recognition in stadiums to enforce any bans.

Through Venues NSW, the NSW government owns and operates all of Sydney's major stadia including the SCG and Sydney Football Stadium as well as Newcastle Stadium and Wollongong Entertainment Centre.

The move comes after Bankstown District Amateur Football Association last weekend introduced body cameras for some referees and increased penalties for dissent and abuse, days after referee Khodr Yaghi was attacked by a suspended player.

The attack at the end of an April 28 match in Padstow broke Mr Yaghi's jaw in three places and knocked out three teeth, drawing widespread condemnation from the football faithful, politicians and wider community.

"That type of behaviour ... we should not see it again," Mr Kamper said.

He said the government would implement changes as soon as possible.