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The Saturday Panel | Referees talk death threats and abuse in Irish Sport

Airtricity League referee Rob Rogers joined this week's Saturday Panel and spoke about receiving death threats from supporters while doing his job.

The Irish official recalled a number of incidents where he was verbally threatened from the stands during matches.

He says it's something that must be eradicated from the game but understands more often than not the vindictive attacks are often empty threats.

The referee admitted the abuse is unsettling but understands it's something that has always been going on in the heat of the moment.

"When you look into it, it's mainly young people. It's young people getting carried away. Old fashion wise they call it passion; it's probably more than passion - the wrong type of passion.

"Up to it, and including death threats are not nice,' added Rogers.

Rogers believes the abuse is more often than not down to the effects of alcohol and is something the culprits regret when the adrenaline has died down.

"Generally speaking when people come away from the game the next day and they've sobered up from the few pints or whatever, it all dies down, and it's fine after that - you know."

Rugby official Peter Fitzgibbon and GAA referee Martin McNally also joined the show.

Fitzgibbon said he believes passion must remain in the stands but says it's important for supporters to know not to overstep the boundary.

He thinks something must be done to eradicate verbal intimidation officials receive on the sport's field.

"The beauty of sport is that people get emotional and passionate about it. We don't want to lose that. No one wants to lose that because that feeds into the atmosphere.

"We love to see that at grounds and big matches, that's part of the adrenaline buzz but no one wants to see that [abuse]."

The rugby referee says strong action needs to be taken if offenders cross the line in order to set an example.

"We don't want to distill that down or take it away but maybe at times people will maybe step over the line - and when they do, we've probably got to take strong action to make sure that people know where the line is."

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