A soccer player who assaulted a ref has been banned until 2029 from games in the Manitoba Soccer Association.

Branko Dukic was given the ban by the Manitoba Soccer Association for the "physical assault of a game official."

The 29-year-old player for Winnipeg Croatia is also facing a criminal charge of assault causing bodily harm.

It all stems from an incident on May 29 in a game against Galatasary United Vince Leah Recreation Centre on Salter Street.

According to Xxavier Barra, a player for Galatasary United, the assault happened in the final five minutes of play.

A player on the Croatia team was given a yellow card. He then taunted the ref, a man in his 50s, and asked to be given another yellow card.

When the ref went to do that the player punched him and he fell to the ground unconscious, Barra said, alleging the player then kicked the ref twice.

“The player himself was very remorseful from hearing him talk, but you can only apologize so much,” said Barra, who was also present for Branko Dukic's hearing. “The message I think it sends is that actions like this are unacceptable."

An off-duty officer who happened to be on the scene held the suspect until police arrived.