11th Aug, 2020

Referee distraught after spitting incident

Craig Gibbons 25th May, 2018

A REFEREE who was spat at in the face by a footballer is contemplating whether or not to blow the final whistle on his career.

William Cemis, who lives in Stratford, was distraught after being subjected to the incident by Sean Keeley from Barnt Green Spartak FC just moments after sending him off in last week’s league match.

The game between Barnt Green and Feckenham was subsequently abandoned.

Mr Cemis was due to referee two more matches this season but decided not to officiate those games over fears a spitting incident could happen again.

Speaking exclusively to the Observer, Mr Cemis revealed he was mulling over the decision to give up refereeing completely, despite the streams of supportive messages urging him to continue.

He said: “I just feel too nervous to even think about stepping back out onto a pitch because I am unsure how a player is going to react if I make a decision which could be controversial.

“I have had to come off my final games because I am just not in the right frame of mind to referee any more games.

“I know it would be still classed as assault but I’d rather have had the player headbutt me than spit at me in the middle of the face because spitting is the lowest of the low.

“It’s a good job I wasn’t spat at in the mouth or eyes otherwise I would have had to have gone through numerous medical tests.”

Mr Keeley has been permanently banned by the Birmingham County FA from playing for any team which comes under their jurisdiction.

Mr Cemis added: “When you have refereed for 14 years you expect players to react to decisions as they get irate but not like that.

“At this particular level of football you just would not expect it either but at the same time it is one of those things that comes with the job.”

Mr Cemis urged any referee involved in a spitting incident in future should not ‘run away and hide’ and report the incident straight away.

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