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Response to alleged soccer attack

The Manitoba Soccer Association released a statement Monday regarding the alleged assault of an official in a Manitoba Major Soccer League game last week.

On Thursday at approximately 9 p.m., Winnipeg police were called to an incident during a men's soccer game between Winnipeg Croatia and Galatasaray United at the Vince Leah Recreation Centre on Salter Street.

According to witnesses, a player on Winnipeg Croatia, upset at being given a yellow card by the referee, argued the call on the field and taunted the referee to give him another yellow card. When the referee reached into his pocket to pull out another card, the player attacked the referee on the field.

It's alleged the player punched the referee in the jaw and then kicked him twice while he lay unconscious on the ground.

A 28-year-old man was arrested and charged with assault causing bodily harm. He was released on a promise to appear.

The official, a 56-year-old man, suffered a concussion during the attack and was taken to hospital.

In soccer, a yellow card is a caution but a player who is shown a second yellow card in the same game is shown a red card and sent off immediately. Red cards carry an automatic ejection from the game.

Héctor Vergara, executive director of the MSA, offered comment on the matter Monday:

"This is a very unfortunate incident, one that we don't want to see in our sport and has no place in any sport at any level. Due to the fact that this incident is under investigation by both the police authorities and the MSA discipline committee, the MSA will limit its comments at this time to this media release.

"The MSA does not tolerate the abuse, assault or violence against referees and has in place a discipline system and process that will be followed in dealing with this matter. The discipline committee has a number of options available to it with regard to how to deal with the matter and will proceed with a hearing as soon as possible. The MSA does want to ensure due process is followed for all parties involved but we are clear that we don't tolerate violence on the playing field."

Comments are not accepted on this story because they might prejudice a case before the courts.

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