A youth football game turned into a massive brawl in Sarasota, Fla. Saturday afternoon, after a referee’s call apparently prompted an upset coach and several others to charge him.
It happened just before halftime on a local high school field. Video of the melee shows players, coaches and others quickly massing onto the field, pushing, throwing punches and piling onto one another. One woman is heard screaming, “Oh my God!” over the bedlam, and a man shouts through the public address system for everyone to get back:
The players on the teams were 13- and 14- years old.
In the video, 41-year-old referee Jayme Ream is seen fighting with a member of the coaching staff. As the coach falls to his knees, another man who appears to be another coach is seen grabbing the referee and pulling him away. At that point, a third member of the staff confronts Ream, and he tries to run away, until a player runs at him and knocks him off his feet. Mayhem ensues, with punches and kicks visible in the video.
He was taken to a local hospital after the incident and is doing well, the Tampa Tribune reported.
“It’s absolutely disgusting. I have never seen anything like that. The coach should be disqualified from coaching altogether. The team should be suspended for the whole year. It’s not giving sportsmanship anything,” Greg Fabijanczuk, a football dad, told Fox Tampa Bay.
Debbie Ismail, a parent, told the Tribune she was on the sideline at the time of the brawl.
“It was unbelievable,” Ismail said. “Very bad, poor sportsmanship. It was horrifying.”
Mike Cody, the coach for the other team and who did not attack the referee, spoke to his team a few days after the incident.
“There was no excuse for it,” Cody told his team. “One of the most disgraceful things I have ever seen in my 24 years of working with children.”
A spokesman for the Sarasota County School District said while the teams will still be able to practice on school fields, they will not be permitted to hold games.
The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office said it is investigating the incident. No charges have yet been filed.