A sergeant working at the sheriff’s office in Florida was arrested on Tuesday, after presumably punching a referee during a children’s soccer game that occurred during the weekend.
The incident triggered concern about the action of the police regarding the safety of young individuals and sports personnel participating in sports events in Florida.
Sergeant Russell, the accused, who serves as a homicide sergeant at Jacksonville Sheriff’s County Office came to give support to his son who was playing in one of the soccer teams.
An eyewitness records that Sergeant Russell became furious with the referee after the call he made breached his son’s team undertaking. He approached the referee and started an argument with him over the action.
Things quickly escalated; leading to the sergeant punching the referee in the face, who hit the ground in agony. Parents were forced to mediate over the actions of Sergeant Russell and the referee, where Russell was held back and the referee pulled away.
The referee was rushed to the nearest local hospital, where he received medical attention for a nasal fracture and other injuries. Sergeant Russell was taken into custody following the alleged assault.
Parents, teachers, and sports officials came together to express outrage and highlight sports fair play. This incident isn’t the first in kids’ soccer, with many saying more needs to be done to reduce aggression from adults at kids’ sports in Florida.
Parents and coaches showed unease over the incident describing Sergeant Russell’s action as a negative force towards the motivation of young players into sports and requesting parents to help in promoting positive values and discouraging violent acts.
The incident and outrage by parents afterwards, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office to call for a press conference. “The behavior exhibited by this sergeant is unacceptable, and we will not tolerate it in our department” said Sheriff Waters.
After the press conference, a statement was released from the Polk County School District that was drawing attention to security personnel’s obligations to safeguard the safety and well-being of every participant in all sports including soccer, football, and hockey in Florida.
After the incident, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office came out to confirm that Sergeant Russell has been offered an administrative leave as his case is still under probe. The statement also responded by agreeing to parents’ and teachers’ pleas of ensuring the safety and well-being of sports participants in school events.
While the Polk district administrators announced that they will sit down and review policies and procedures governing the safety measures of sports participants, to prevent violence during its sports events.