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Arsenal academy coach banned for abusive language to Under-9s referee

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An Arsenal academy coach has been fined and banned for three matches after he was found to have called a female teenage referee a “little prick” and reduced her to tears.

The appeal board said: “Even though the referee is likely still to have been in a state of distress, we remain of the view that it is highly unlikely that the referee would have misheard ‘OK, fine,’ for ‘How classy, little prick’.” Arsenal told the panel Nichols had been a youth coach for 12 years, nine of them at professional clubs, and he had never previously been charged by the FA.

Nichols was charged on two counts: for using improper language and behaviour towards the referee during the game and, more seriously, for insulting her afterwards.

The referee, described in the FA’s written judgement as “a female minor, a child”, was crying towards the end of the match and after it, according to witnesses.

An Arsenal spokesman said: “At Arsenal we do not accept or tolerate behaviour of this nature.

The behaviour of Alex Nichols during and after an Under-9s game against Reading earlier in the year was described by a Football Association disciplinary panel as having “painted an abhorrent picture”.

Nichols had loudly criticised a series of the referees’ decisions but he claimed that he simply said, “OK, fine”, after she turned down his post-match handshake.
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