Abused 18-year-old referee triggers 2,000 amateurs across the UK 'to strike this weekend'

A swathe of disgruntled refs across the UK are reportedly set to go on strike this weekend.

The 18-year-old Ryan Hampson set up a Facebook campaign calling on officials across the United Kingdom to boycott grassroots matches on the first weekend in March, in protest at the treatment they receive.

He says the Football Association's procedures to protect referees are too relaxed.

"At times it has been awful," Manchester-based Hampson said. "I have been headbutted, I've been spat at and I've been punched, just to name a few things that have happened."

Hampson has spoken to national media to raise awareness for his campaign.

"I had a match where one team was awful all game and it got to a point where I had to be escorted off the pitch by the 11 players on the other team," he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"They had to get in a circle and escort me physically, because the other team wouldn't let me go."

Hampson believes such incidents are not always successfully appealed at regional FA branches when they should be.

"Another game, when I got hit, the other manager was there and gave the same version of events as me and it got 'not proven'. I don't know how," he added.

The FA told the BBC that 4,000 referees decide not to re-register, with a small portion saying dissent from players and parents was a contributing factor.

An FA statement said 880,000 youth and adult affiliated grassroots football matches were played last season in England, with 111 cases of assault.

"Under FA regulations, this means those offenders are now banned from all football activity," it said. "It was valuable to meet Ryan last month. He raised some important points and we look forward to maintaining this dialogue."

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