Referee Daniel Sweeney says he forgives attackers who left him hospitalised with serious facial injuries at the weekend.
The Dungloe native was attacked after refereeing a game between Horseleap and Mullingar Town in the Combined Counties Football League on Sunday.
Sweeney was set upon after showing a red card during the game. Gardai from Tullamore are investigating the incident which led to the official requiring surgery.
It is alleged that Sweeney was attacked by three Mullingar players and a spectator.
“To the individuals involved, I bear no animosity whatsoever for what happened,” he told RTÉ News.
“I actually forgive you for what happened.
“What I’d like to see? I’d like to see the day a referee can go onto a football field safe and be safe.”
Sweeney said that the messages of support had been ‘absolutely outstanding and overwhelming’.
Mullingar Town and the Combined Counties Football League have condemned the incident.
League officials have met with the Minister with responsibility for sport, Brendan Griffin, and the FAI CEO John Delaney as their own probe into the incident continues.
There have been calls for those involved to be give lifetime bans from the sport.
Referee Daniel Sweeney, who was assaulted after a soccer match in the midlands at the weekend, says he would like to see the day that a referee can go on a pitch and 'feel safe' pic.twitter.com/B9R3NdX1j0
— RTÉ News (@rtenews) November 13, 2018