Referee attacked and beaten during youth football game

1:05 PM, Sep 1, 2011   |    comments
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SARASOTA, Fla -- Florida authorities are investigating a brutal brawl that erupted during a youth football game over the weekend.   

Players, coaches and members of the crowd were all part of the mob that attacked a referee after a controversial call.

The melee occurred on the field just before half-time of a game Saturday afternoon between the Sarasota Gators and the North Port Huskies at Riverview High School in Sarasota. The players were 13 and 14 years old.

Debbie Ismail, a parent and treasurer for the North Port Huskies, said she was on the sideline at the time of the brawl.

"It was unbelievable," Ismail said. "Very bad, poor sportsmanship. It was horrifying."

In the video, the referee, who lives in St. Petersburg, is seen fighting with another man, who appears to be a member of the Gators coaching staff.

As the man falls to his knees, another man who also appears to be a coach on the Gators staff is seen grabbing the referee and pulling him away.

A third member of the staff then tries to confront the referee, and a youth in a green shirt takes a swing at the referee.

The referee starts to run away but a Gators football player runs at him at full speed, wraps his arms around him and slams him to the ground.

The player hops next to the referee as if egging him on to get up and fight.

A woman's voice on the recording yells, "Oh, my God!" A man shouts through the public announcement system for people to get back.

Adults converge on the referee who is still on the ground and start kicking him. He is eventually pulled away.

By the end of the video, there are a number of people on the field - some are involved in the altercation and others are trying to restore order.

Ismail said the referee was taken by ambulance to a local hospital.

A woman who answered the phone at the referee's home on Wednesday night said he's doing fine.

The sheriff's office is interviewing witnesses, suspects and victims involved in the fight.

The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office is reviewing the tape of the brawl, and is interviewing people who saw it, participated in it, and of course, the victim.

Assaulting a referee is a felony in florida.

A representative for the Sarasota Gators declined to comment.

The team is a member of the Mid-Florida Football and Cheerleading Conference.

An official with the conference also refused to comment.

(Copyright 2011 by NBC. All Rights Reserved.)

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