Referee Thong Chanketya (second right) sends off the Police team’s Touch Pancharong (left) on Saturday. The decision caused the whole team to walk off in protest. Photo by: SRENG MENG SRUN
As further proof of the growing indiscipline on the pitch and intimidation of referees by players and team officials this season, the Metfone C-League tie between titleholders Phnom Penh Crown and debutants National Police Commissary on Saturday came to a bizarre premature conclusion.
The Police squad staged a walk-off protest at Olympic Stadium after defender Touch Pancharong was dismissed following an altercation that saw Crown substitute Phoung Narong storm onto the field.
Police players vehemently argued with referee Thong Chanketya that the Crown benchman had inflamed an otherwise innocuous incident and that Pancharong had not been the aggressor.
The referee dutifully red-carded Narong, but the Police stood their ground as officials tried in vain to convince the side to resume play.
Left with no choice as the entire Police line up trooped off, the referee called time on the fixture after just 24 minutes.
The match was later awarded to Crown, who had been leading 2-0 at the time.
With the statutory penalty of three goals for a default, Crown were eventually credited with a 5-0 victory, which not only sent them seven points clear of hard-chasing Naga Corp but also cushioned their goal quotient.
For the record, Sovana Rithy opened the Crown scoring in the 10th minute when his thunderbolt strike clipped the crossbar on the way in. Japanese import Takahito Ota doubled the lead when a defensive lapse allowed him free access to the box.
Police team management characterised the incident as a victim being punished while a vandal got away, with team officials claiming hundreds had witnessed their injustice.
An obvious argument was that the double dismissal had left the Police with 10 men while Crown remained at full strength. Pancharong and Narong were apparently close friends when they were teammates at Crown two years ago.
The Football Federation of Cambodia is set to take action following this latest controversy.
“Referees are being threatened by both players and team officials on a regular basis. Authority is being undermined and we cannot allow this to grow,” FFC deputy secretary-general and spokesman May Tola said.
“For our part, we will hold an inquiry into this incident and punish the guilty . . . Walking out of the game is showing disrespect to the league and it cannot be tolerated.”
Meanwhile, referees conveyed the difficulties they face in trying to officiate in Cambodia.
“Refereeing is not only a thankless job, it is also becoming dangerous and players turn their ire on the referees when things aren’t working their way on the pitch,” one match official, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retribution, said. “There are two or three notoriously ill-behaved teams, and we feel particularly insecure doing matches involving them,” he said.
Yun Mesa goal rescues PKR
A last-gasp goal by Yun Mesa saved the day for Preah Khan Reach as the Military Police-backed side edged out a gallant Prek Pra Keila 1-0 in Saturday’s second match.
There was plenty of action at both ends as ninth-placed Prek Pra held their own against some incisive play by PKR hitman Khuon Laboravy. The nippy frontliner was thwarted no fewer than half a dozen times.
Adding to their frustration, PKR lost Sok Chan Raksmey to a second yellow card in the 60th minute.
The 10-man team, however, staged a winning rally in the dying minutes of the game when a Prak Mony Udom free kick brought the desired result, the ball invitingly dropping in Yun Mesa’s path after coming off a defender.