Disgraced Southsea referee should be '˜banned for life' campaign group says
CALLS have been made for a disgraced male referee to be banned from football for life after relentlessly tormenting three female officials online.
Connor Mayes set up fake accounts on dating app Tinder, pretending to be Women’s FA Cup final official Lucy Oliver, as well as colleagues Amy Robinson, of Gosport, and Paula Wyatt, of Petersfield.
His first victim is understood to be Mrs Oliver, of Drayton.
Malicious Mayes, of Brompton Road, Southsea, spent several years posing as the married football official, flirting with countless men.
Mrs Oliver – wife of Premier League and Euros referee Michael Oliver – had been Mayes’ teacher when she worked at South Downs College and was left ‘an emotional wreck’ by Mayes’ actions.
The 23-year-old was eventually uncovered by police after being reported and was banned by the Football Association until 2019 after admitting an improper conduct charge.
But women’s sport support network, Women in Football (WiF), has said this punishment is too lenient. A spokeswoman from the group said all three victims had ‘been through hell’ and called on the Football Association to offer them counselling.
Janie Frampton, ambassador for WiF, said: ‘Lucy, Amy and Paula have been through hell, with their reputations tarnished and their confidence shattered.
‘Mr Mayes can return to football in three years as if nothing has happened but the women need FA-sponsored counselling now to help them recover from this traumatic online abuse and to ensure that they can continue as highly-successful referees.
‘The fact that Mr Mayes worked with all three referees and then betrayed them in this way illustrates a shocking disregard for the standards of trust –integrity that must be paramount when working together as a team officiating at a football match.’
Mrs Oliver is believed to have started her own investigation into the abuse, said Mrs Frampton. This eventually led to her discovering that her colleagues were also being targeted.
Mayes was then reported to Hampshire police. He was given a conditional caution by police in December.
Since then he has appeared at an independent FA commission where he was banned from refereeing.
Speaking of Mayes’ ban, Mrs Frampton added: ‘Three years isn’t enough. What he has done is disgusting. He should never be a ref.
‘He isn’t the sort of person we want refereeing.
‘Are people going to trust him?
‘He has displayed he has a low level of honesty.
‘Honesty, integrity and trust are vital for being a referee. He has none of it.’
Mayes was unavailable for comment.
The FA said it had been ‘in regular contact’ with the victims to offer them support.
In 2014, Mrs Oliver was subjected to sexist comments by the former vice-president of Northumberland County FA John Cummings.
He said her place ‘was in the kitchen, not on the football pitch’.
He was axed from his role.