Regina police are looking for a 26-year-old soccer player accused of punching a referee at an indoor game Wednesday night.
Fans watching the game posted video of the scene, shortly after the incident, to YouTube:
According to police, the 45-year-old ref was knocked unconscious during a World Class Players Cup match at the Credit Union Eventplex.
Statement from World Class Players Cup organizers:
The WCP Cup Organizing Committee would like to comment on the circumstances of the game between Team Poland and Team Sudan which has been getting some social media discussion as well as media attention.
During the middle of the second half there was a scuffle between the two teams that resulted from a hard tackle followed by an equally hard retaliation. Various players from both benches came together with a little pushing and shoving. While there were individuals from both teams that were involved in the scuffle, there were also a significant number of players and coaches from both teams that kept cool heads and assisted in defusing the situation. As a result of the scuffle, the referee analyzed the situation and ejected four players (two from each team) from the game.
The WCP Cup Organizing Committee would like to be clear that while a scuffle like this is not a typical occurrence and not what the WCP Cup multicultural sporting event likes to see, it was by no means an event that went beyond the normal scuffles that happen in all levels of competitive sporting events (soccer, hockey, basketball, co-ed touch football, etc.). The referee dealt with the situation, applied the laws of the game and the game resumed play.
The game resumed play and approximately 15 minutes later, an entirely separate incident occurred that was not associated with the previous scuffle. Another hard tackle occurred by a Team Sudan player against a Team Poland player. As a result of the tackle, the referee game the Team Sudan player a red card and ejected him from the game. As a result of the ejection, the Team Sudan player struck the referee.
At the time the referee was struck, there was only a short amount of time left in the game and as a result, a decision by the officiating crew was made to end the game. Prior to this decision, the Team Sudan player left the field of play (which is required as a result of an ejection).
The WCP Cup Organizing Committee would like to be clear that the incident where the referee was struck was not associated with the previous team scuffle. When the game was ended, both teams very admirably separated themselves in order to make sure further incidents did not occur. Both teams eventually made their way back to their respective dressing rooms without incident. The fans and cultural communities for both Team Poland as well as Team Sudan, while stunned by the way the game ended, remained respectful and positive and stayed true to the WCP Cup vision that all cultural groups can come together in a respectful and peaceful way.
The WCP Cup Organizing Committee takes the position that the striking by a player of an official is outside of the scope of the game and as such, the local authorities were contacted by the WCP Cup Organizing Committee. The player who struck the referee had already left the Team Sudan dressing room prior to Team Sudan as a whole returning following the game being called and as such was not able to be interviewed by the local authorities upon their arrival. The WCP Cup Organizing Committee has cooperated with local authorities and will continue to cooperate in the future if so requested.
The WCP Cup Organizing Committee would like to thank the various members of both Team Poland and Team Sudan who assisted in calming the situation down and making sure that further incidents did not result. The WCP Cup Discipline Committee will review the five ejections and will deal with those situations as is deemed appropriate.
People at the match, between Sudan and Poland, said it was a player with the Sudan team who threw the punch.
"Preliminary investigation indicates the victim had been struck in the jaw, causing him to fall, unconscious, to the ground," the Regina Police Service said in a press release.
Hussam Ibrahim, who's from Sudan and was watching the game, which Poland won 4-1, said emotions were running high.
"Things got out of hand, people started fouling and tackling each other," Ibrahim said.
The referees handed out two red cards to Sudan and two red cards to Poland.
According to a statement from the WCP, there was a brief scuffle on the field when those red cards were issued and the situation flared up when another red card was issued a few minutes later.
"All hell broke loose," when the ref went to deliver a third red card, Ibrahim said.
"I didn't see a punch, but he touched his [the ref's] face," Ibrahim said. "By no means am I justifying it, no touching should ever happen ... but from a fan's point of view, the ref overreacted."
The referee refused an ambulance but was advised to seek medical follow-up, police said.
Police were on the scene and searched the locker room and other areas of the building, but couldn't find the suspect.
According to the WCP, after the incident between the player and the referee, the game was declared ended and everyone left the field.
The organizers then called the police.
"The WCP Cup Organizing Committee takes the position that the striking by a player of an official is outside of the scope of the game and as such, the local authorities were contacted," the committee said in a news release.
Police haven't released the suspect's name, but said it's believed he's from Alberta.
The incident has attracted attention on various social media platforms, including Facebook where a man posted a video to his account that provided a sense of the heated atmosphere of the soccer match. The video shows another part of the game, not connected to the alleged punch, where players were involved in a scuffle on the field.