Dad stands by his footballing son – it’s no foul (when provoked) to hit the ref with an open hand

And if you don’t award the goal I’ll break your bloody jaw.

The Fasavalu family obviously lives under a different behavioural code than is applied in the Grumble family.

One of the buggers – a footballer named Tama – has been accused of breaking a referee’s jaw.

The HoS reports the matter here.

Tama Fasavalu was banned indefinitely from all football this week by Auckland Football and is facing an assault charge.

But the player’s aggrieved dad is saying it’s a bum rap and his boy has been wronged.

How come?

Because his boy only “slapped” the official.

Oh, dear.

How downright unjust.

He has slapped a ref and the bloody football authorities have red-carded him.

The HoS embellishes its story by mentioning that dad is suffering from throat cancer.

And that is relevant – how exactly?

But his ailment has not silenced him.

He said Fasavalu was provoked and had hit referee Len Gattsche with an open hand.

“He didn’t do anything wrong,” said the father.

And there we have it.

In the Fasavalu family, if you have been provoked it’s okay to hit other people with an open hand, including football referees.

In the once-over-lightly HoS story, dad didn’t elaborate on whether it was okay to hit other people with an open hand if the result was a broken jaw.

Actually, by saying the player had been simply “accused” of breaking the ref’s jaw, the HoS raises the possibility that maybe the broken jaw bit of the accusation is fanciful.

Alf wanted to know more about that side of the story.

He learned from Stuff (in a report here) that late last month the police arrested and charged a bloke in relation to an alleged assault on a referee during a football match in Auckland.

If this assault involved no more than a slap, it was not the sort of slap parents applied to discipline their children in the good old days.

We are told

…an alleged punch which broke a football referee’s jaw during a second-division football match in Auckland was so loud it was heard by bystanders more than 40 metres away.

Len Gattsche was allegedly punched in the face by a player he had red-carded in a second division football match between Manukau City and Tauranga City at Massey Park on Wednesday.

A Counties Manukau police spokeswoman said they had arrested a 36-year-old man this morning and charged him with assault.

He appeared in Manukau District Court this afternoon.

The offending player is not named in this story but the ref’s name (you will have noted) was Len Gattsche.

There can’t be too many refs who bear that name and certainly not too many of that name who have had their jaws broken, allegedly or otherwise.

Auckland Football at that time was also investigating the incident and the player had been stood down by Manukau City indefinitely.

We were treated to a witness’s account, albeit a witness from the other team.

Tauranga City coach Mervyn Montgomery said the player was a “big boy”, well-built and standing at around 189cm tall.

“So there would have been a bit of weight behind the punch,” he said.

“I was 40 metres away and I heard the crack. It was pretty loud.”

Fair to say, Montgomery’s account suggests Fasavalu had been doing some slapping, which – so long as he had been provoked – is considered all right in his dad’s sporting code.

Montgomery said the player allegedly threw the punch after taking exception to being sent off.

He had repeatedly tussled with players during the game – including slapping two opposition members in the face – when he was given his second yellow card for tackling the Tauranga City captain from behind.

After the card he went to walk away but then started arguing with the tackled player, prompting Gattsche to intervene.
“He turned back to the ref and started abusing the ref… and the ref said that’s your second yellow it’s a red, you’re off, you’ve got to leave the field now, and he punched him.”

Gattsche was then in Middlemore Hospital awaiting surgery.

But whoa.

One glaring aspect of the Stuff story late in April does not square with the HoS story today.

The Stuff report quoted Manukau City chairman Saubree Edinberry as saying the sportsman was a team stalwart who had been with the club for more than a decade.

He was in tears as he left a hearing where he learned he would effectively be stopped from ever playing for the club again.

Edinberry said the player in question had been going through some personal issues after the death of his father, and had taken a week off before the alleged incident.

Say that again…

The death of his father?

Is this a report about a separate matter and has the ref had his jaw broken by two different players in two different incidents in recent times?

Let’s do some more checking.

In recent days the NZ Herald reported (you will find it here) on a soccer player who had punched a referee in the jaw, breaking it in three places.

Did they mean “punched”?

Or was it a slap?

Anyway, he had been suspended from the game indefinitely and fined $1000.

And now we had a name.

Tama Fasavalu, 36, appeared in court last week charged with assaulting volunteer referee Len Gattsche after being sent off in a fiery Anzac Day clash against Tauranga City.

This report said Gattsche, who had at least 15 years’ experience as a referee, spent three days in hospital and underwent surgery to repair his jaw.

It also said –

The sound of Mr Gattsche’s jaw cracking was heard by spectators 40m away.

Oh, it looks suspiciously like Fasavalu was the bloke involved in the incident on which Stuff reported.

The assault happened in the 79th minute of a second division match between Manukau City and Tauranga City United after Fasavalu was given his second yellow for heavy tackles. Two yellow cards automatically become a red card, meaning the Manukau City player was sent off.

An Auckland Football Federation judicial panel had held a hearing regarding the incident.

After reviewing the reports from the day and hearing a submission from Fasavalu’s legal advisers, the panel imposed an indefinite suspension from all involvement in the game.

The suspension can be lifted only by application to the board of New Zealand Football after a minimum of 12 months.

Fasavalu was also fined $1000.

The player and club have 14 days if they want to appeal against the findings.

Auckland Football Federation chief executive David Parker said the judicial process under Auckland Football and New Zealand Football regulations had been fully tested by the assault.

“What this type of incident shows is that we have the processes in place to respond in an appropriate and timely manner and at the same time have the ability to support our volunteers.”

As part of his bail conditions from Manukau District Court, Fasavalu had to surrender his passport and reside at a Mangere address. He is due to reappear this month.

This report records an apology from Saubree Edinberry to Gattsche and his family on behalf of the club for what happened.

“We’d also like to apologise to the Auckland Football Federation and the soccer fraternity for the incident.

“The incident was isolated and totally out of control. We, as a club, had absolutely no control to stop the incident from happening – it happened on the field and it happened so fast.

“We’d also like to apologise to our fans who come out and watch us play.”

Edinberry has different ideas than the Fasavalus about how to behave on the pitch.

“We don’t expect that [behaviour] to happen in any form or way.

“A player of any club, for that matter, shouldn’t ever lift a hand towards a player or towards a referee,” Mr Edinberry said.

Can’t quarrel with that.

Alf accordingly is seriously troubled by the notions of sportsmanship – and behaviour more generally – drummed into the Fasavalu family.

He is left musing on the prospect of the Fasavalus running world football.

All hell would break loose on pitches as aggrieved players, smarting under rulings they regard as unjust, retaliated by slapping the referees.

But orthopaedic surgeons could look forward to a nice lift in their earnings.


One Response to Dad stands by his footballing son – it’s no foul (when provoked) to hit the ref with an open hand

  1. Len Gattsche says:

    As the referee concerned, excellent piece of writing.

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