FT. LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – A referee who was caught on camera being smacked in the face by an assistant football coach is speaking out, saying he was attacked for no reason.
“Football is violent enough,” said 41-year-old Andrew Keigans. “We don’t need to add to it.”
Keigans told CBS4′s Peter D’Oench that he was “shocked” and “surprised” by the attack. He said he’s been refereeing multiple sports for 14 years and says nothing like this has happened to him before.
Keigans spoke to D’Oench as youth football sports activities in West Park were temporarily suspended following the incident that happened Saturday and was seen on You Tube.
“I feel bad for the kids,” said Keigans. “They are the ones who are losing. They have the playoffs coming up.”
“I called a foul for unsportsmanlike conduct and then I noticed coach Dion Robinson was coming at me and then I was punched in the face. He hit me in the ear and I was shocked,” said Keigans. “I weigh 318 pounds and for him to knock me on the ground, he got me really good.”
“I have refereed games where coaches get heated about calls I don’t like but I have never seen anything like this before,” he said. “It is just nuts.”
Robinson, 43, was arrested and charged with battery. It was later discovered that he has a criminal record for numerous charges including firearm and drug charges.
Keigans’ attorney, Ernest Santos Jr., said he may file a lawsuit.
“My concern here is that the coach in this situation had a predisposition to violence,” Santos said.
“He shouldn’t be out there coaching,” said Keigans.
Keigans said he referees youth football, basketball, baseball and softball for a living. “I referee 26 to 30 games a week,” he said.
He was paid $50 to referee the youth football game in which he was struck in the face. CBS4 caught up with Keigans Tuesday afternoon as he was refereeing a flag football game at St. Michael Catholic School in Miami. He was paid $35 to referee that game.
West Park’s Mayor Eric Jones said the city did a background check on Robinson, along with 65-70 others. Jones said Broward County said they were unable to do the checks due to the volume of requests. The mayor said the only thing they found was a minor charge from Miami-Dade County.
“In hindsight we will try to upgrade the way we do this,” said Jones so they can avoid these types of problems in the future.
Parents at McTyre Park in West Park learned Monday that this altercation would cost their kids the rest of their season. The Miami Extreme Youth Football League said West Park will forfeit the rest of its’ games in all divisions.
“Our kids did not fight this referee an adult did it,” said parent Terry Mareus. “The kids should not be punished.”
Mareus said he witnessed what happened before the slap. He said the referee got rough with a child.
“He came up with two hands, with full thrust and knocked the hell out of the kid,” Mareus told CBS 4’s Carey Codd. “Almost gave the kid whiplash.”
After a league meeting on Tuesday night in Miami Springs, league president Danny Martinez told CBS 4 News that the decision is final.
“We are punishing the kids,” Martinez said. “We are protecting the other member parks that have to play them and interact with them. they have to feel safe and secure that they can participate in events with them.”
When Robinson walked out of Broward County’s Main Jail Tuesday morning but had little to say about the incident which happened last Saturday at McTyre Park on SW 56th Avenue when the West Park Saints battled the West Miramar Patriots.
“The referee owes an explanation,” Robinson told D’Oench. “Take a look at it.”
According to the Broward Sheriff’s Office during the game, Keigans called a penalty on the Saints after someone in the stands made a derogatory remark.
After Keigans threw the flag, he told investigators that he accidentally bumped into a player as he went to talk to the head referee.
“I bumped into him by accident,” said Keigans.
Robinson reportedly decided to challenge the ref’s call and stormed onto the field to confront Keigans. The Saints head coach, Antonio Lane, tried to hold him back to no avail.
Seeing Robinson run out onto the field to confront Keigans, the head referee decided to call the game. When he did, the Saints entire coaching staff and some parents also ran out on the field.
When Robinson reached Keigans, he allegedly hit him in the face causing the ref to fall down. Robinson then took off.
“We were just wow, I can’t believe he hit him like that,” said Michelle Virgilio who was at the game.
Her son Branden plays for the Patriots.
“I saw the coach run up and hit the ref, he went down. I thought the whole park was going to get into a big fight,” said Branden Virgilio.
The swing was captured on video and uploaded to YouTube.
Robinson’s sister, Candy James, said the altercation began because Robinson said Keigans bumped one of his players intentionally.
“That’s why he went to him and said ‘You owe him an apology for elbowing him’ and the referee said ‘I don’t owe anybody an apology. I’m not saying nothing’,” said James.
Gerardo Gomez, president of the South Florida Football Officials Association, said Keigans has been a referee for more than a dozen years and officiates multiple sports.
“He’s a little shaken up,” Gomez said of Keigans. “It’s the first time anything like this has happened to him.”
Gomez is also concerned about Robinson having a criminal record.
“It does concern me that the vetting process of his background didn’t raise any red flags.”
Robinson is no longer allowed to coach.