An Arsenal academy coach has been banned and fined for ‘abhorrent’ behaviour towards a teenage girl refereeing an Under-9s match.
Alex Nichols reduced the female, described as a ‘minor’ in the disciplinary commission’s findings, to tears by shouting at her during a match between Arsenal and Reading involving eight and nine-year-old boys.
Mr Nichols was Under-9s coach at the time of the incident but has since changed jobs
Mr Nichols also called the referee a ‘little prick’ after she refused to shake his hand at the end of the match.
He was found guilty of one charge of improper conduct but cleared of using abusive words after the game at an initial hearing.
However, a second hearing took place after a Football Association appeal, with Mr Nichols then found guilty of both offences.
He has been suspended for three matches and also fined £400.
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The findings say: “Following a collision of two players, Mr Nichols screamed at the top of his voice, ‘Ref that’s a penalty’.
“The referee was confident it was not, however Mr Nichols continued to question her decision, shouting and screaming at her and running down the sideline, leaving the referee feeling humiliated, belittled and bullied.
“She asked him to go away. He responded that he was not going anywhere.
“He shouted other derogatory comments, such as, ‘Oh my god’, ‘Are you having a laugh?’ and continued to challenge every decision she made.”
Evidence from the referee highlighted her refusal to shake Mr Nichols’ hand at the end of the match due to his actions.
The findings continue: “He then muttered, ‘How classy, little prick.’ She states that later, after his team had finished playing outside, he came to apologise to her but she declined his apology.”
Mr Nichols admitted to raising his voice in a written response provided by Arsenal, but he denied shouting and running up and down the touchline, and also abusing the referee after the match.
He claims to have said, ‘OK fine’, after her refusal to shake his hand.
An Arsenal spokesman said: “At Arsenal we do not accept or tolerate behaviour of this nature. We took appropriate action, suspending the coach immediately after the allegation was brought to our attention.”
Mr Nichols was Arsenal’s Under-9s head coach at the time of the incident but has since changed roles to a general coaching position in the club’s academy.
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