THE Irish referee who was savagely beaten during a senior football match last weekend has undergone a successful five-hour surgery and had plates inserted into his jaw.
Ref Daniel Sweeney was attacked by thugs shortly after referreing a Leinster Senior League clash between Horseleap United and Mullingar Town in Co. Westmeath on Sunday.
The father-of-two was left with a jaw broken in two places, a fractured eye socket and numerous lacerations to his nose in the wake of the assault.
He will remain at St James's Hospital in Dublin over the weekend following his operation - which saw "four to five" plates inserted in his jaw - and will spend up to eight weeks recovering at home thereafter.
President of the Irish Soccer Referees Society, Paul O’Brien, has revealed that talks with the FAI for new sanctions over assaults on match officials are underway following the horrific attack.
One of our Referees in Midland Branch today after a game was viciously attacked by players this should not be tollarted at all we as Referees doing a job no REF no game pic.twitter.com/YgPpAhSNpD
— Joe Cassidy Athlone (@JoeCassidyIRE) 11 November 2018
He told Sean O'Rourke on RTÉ Radio One: "I've been refereeing for 24 years and this is the most serious assault I’ve seen.
"This kind of vicious assault is not the norm. But in cases like that, we have to be looking at life [suspensions] for the people that assaulted Daniel the way they did".
He continued: "At the moment, as it stands, anyone who assaults a referee gets a minimum one-year suspension.
"We have looked at the English model where it's a minimum of five years and we looked at the Scottish model of 10 years, [but] we felt it was too simplistic so we’ve agreed to a tiered structure with assault - so obviously the more serious the assault, the stronger the sanction.
"I have to say that the FAI were very supportive of this."
The new rules may also include sanctions against those who abuse soccer referees online.
Mr O'Brien added: "We’re going to look at the whole idea of disparaging comments on social media by clubs and how best to deal with abuse.
"Ultimately at the end of the day, it’s the players and the managers and the coaches that have to take responsibility here for their own actions."