Amateur footballer is banned from matches after threatening referee at Chaddesden
AN amateur footballer who was accused of shouting homophobic abuse at a gay referee has been banned from playing in or watching games for three years.
Mujo Ahmetovic verbally abused the referee after being told to remove his earring during a football game at Chaddesden Race Course.
The 26-year-old admitted using threatening and abusive words or behaviour to cause fear of violence but denied making homophobic comments.
He claimed he had not known the referee was gay and the homophobic remarks had been made by a crowd of supporters, whom he admitted he had "wound up".
The referee told police he heard Ahmetovic shouting that he should not be involved in men's football because of his sexuality.
Southern Derbyshire Magistrates' Court heard that the referee, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, had not experienced anything like it before and the incident had made him think about giving up officiating.
Giving Ahmetovic a 12-month community order, magistrate Derek Lees said: "This was totally immature behaviour – you were quite out of control."
Prosecutor Fernando Rodrigues told the court that Ahmetovic had been a substitute on the sidelines when he disagreed with the referee's decision to give the opposition team a corner kick and became abusive.
Mr Rodrigues said a group of supporters had joined in calling abuse to the official.
The referee then issued a yellow card to Ahmetovic, of Parliament Street, Derby, and took his name.
At half-time, Ahmetovic and some supporters approached the referee and continued the abuse, the court heard.
Mr Rodrigues said the referee felt intimidated and called over two league officials who were watching another match.
The two men spoke to the group and things calmed down, the court was told.
In the second half, Ahmetovic went on to the pitch to play and the referee noticed his earring and asked him to take it out.
"He refused and said 'make me' and charged towards him. He was clenching his fists and the referee walked backwards," said Mr Rodrigues.
The referee decided to stop the game because he feared for his safety.
Mr Rodrigues said Ahmetovic and the others had then shouted abuse, including homophobic comments.
Magistrates gave Ahmetovic a three-year banning order, barring him from attending any football ground or any regulated match.
Ahmetovic was also told to do 180 hours of unpaid work, charged £450 court costs and told to pay his victim £200 in compensation.