THE Papua New Guinea Rugby League Referees Association has lodged a formal complaint with the PNGNRL protesting the possible re-entry of the Hagen Eagles to the Digicel Cup 2017 season which starts in April.
Referees director Joe Peregua said after last year’s preliminary final assault on referee Aaron Henry by Eagles trainer Stanley Akinu, as well as attacks on Benjamin Kaupa and Paul Wani, the association would boycott the season if plans to readmit the Eagles were followed through despite an initial three-year ban imposed on the club.
In a letter to PNGNRL chairman Sudhir Guru and his board, the referees association gave the body until today to respond to their log of claims which listed four instances of abuse perpetrated on referees last season that had not been resolved and their initial demand for stern action to be taken against the Eagles.
Peregua, pictured, said 11 senior Port Moresby-based had signed the petition which was also delivered to the PNGNRL board, PNGRFL chief executive officer Reatau Rau and Southern Confederate director Gwaibo Mairi.
Peregua said if the PNGNRL failed to address their demands after their scheduled board meeting on Sunday, the senior referees would not referee any cup games in 2017.
“The PNGNRL has not done enough to protect referees from attacks, violence and intimidation for a long time,” Peregua said.
“We continue to be attacked, assaulted, beaten and threatened year-in, year-out without any change whatsoever.
“The PNGNRL has failed us terribly and now, after last year’s incident during the Digicel Cup preliminary final, the club that attacked one of our referees will be allowed to come back in 2017.
“It is unacceptable and we will not tolerate that.
“We will not referee any games unless the Hagen Eagles are removed. They were banned for three years and they should serve that time.
Peregua said his association had taken offence after an independent judiciary had cleared the Eagles of the charges and lifted the ban, as well as the fine imposed on the club.
He said although the appeal process had been conducted by an independent body, the outcome had been disappointing.
“The PNGNRL needs to look at the decision by the independent judiciary.
“We understand the original decision was over-turned on appeal because of inconsistencies in the charges but the decision is a bad one for the sport.
He said the referees had been victimised yet again by the decision and it proved that no one was serious about addressing violence in the sport.
“If the Eagles are allowed to come back without being punished, it will paint a bad image for the sport and send the message that attacking referees and being violent is not a serious matter.
“We have therefore resolved to make a stand against the abuses we have suffered last season because we feel the matter has not been handled properly by the PNGNRL judicial system.”