Be Physical but Stay Within the Rules


Football is a topic we are all happy to talk about this week given the success in the National League by Kerry. In that match there were a few “over the top” incidents. These were either not seen by the ref or were dealt with by the black card. Sometimes however the “contact” between players can go much implications for players in these situations is much more serious.

Traditional Approach
Traditionally at least, most players of sport would be of the view that any violence done on the field is harmless and is “left on the field” as the saying goes. However all players need to be aware that times are changing and they may face severe penalties for overdoing it. Firstly, there can be a criminal conviction with the usual sanctions associated with any assault. One hidden issue for a convicted party is that many job or visa applications will ask you if you have a conviction and you may be turned down because of it. Secondly the injured party can take a civil case against you if you decide to take matters into your own hands during a game or training. This can be even more costly.

Masters’ Case
In recent years when playing a match for Nemo Rangers James Masters was assaulted by a member of the opposite team Valley Rovers near the end of the game. The assailant was convicted of assault and fined €1,000. At the time James Masters was a Garda and took an application under the Garda Compensation Acts claiming he was only injured because of his role in the Gardai. This case is a more serious one that is still making its way through the High Court. It involves unique legal issues where the injured party must successfully convince a Judge that he suffered the injuries arising out of his occupation as a Garda.

Managers’ Obligations
I was involved in a case quite a number of years ago from up the country, where an illegal player was played by a visiting team and assaulted a member of the home team. The home player was left with some long term facial injuries. A successful civil case was taken against the club as the managers played the individual under an incorrect name and they themselves did not know that the player they were putting on had a propensity towards violence. The club learnt a serious lesson after this match!
At the end of the day when you play sports like football you are consenting to a certain amount of physical contact. It is important that players bear in mind there can be further implications of going “over the top”. Whereas football competitions are serious business it is important to not take them so seriously that you land yourself in the realm of the Court!

Enjoy the games but stay within the rules!