International netball umpire Gary Burgess has detailed the horrifying online abuse he has received since being embroiled in a controversial umpiring decision in the netball Quad Series.
The head of officiating at England Netball was one of two umpires of the game between the New Zealand Silver Ferns and Australian Diamonds, in which a goal was denied because the umpires didn’t see it.
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With seven minutes to go and the Ferns trailing 51-44, New Zealand’s Ameliaranne Ekenasio slotted a goal but Burgess and fellow umpire Anso Kemp both missed it, instead focused on a physical challenge between Aussie defender Courtney Bruce and Ferns goal shooter Grace Nweke.
“I couldn’t see if the goal was scored, my apologies,” Kemp explained to the players after the call, ruling out the goal, and restarting the game by a ball toss-up.
Players from both sides were visibly shocked, some laughing at the incident.
To add to the confusion, Kemp told Burgess the goal “wasn’t scored” so he decided it should be a “throw in Australia”.
“I don’t know what to suggest if I’m honest,” Burgess said at the time.
Outrage swarmed the netball community, with commentators Jenny Woods and Catherine Cox also shocked by the call.
“How is it you have a situation where neither umpire sees whether or not the goal is scored? It’s extraordinary,” Woods said.
“This is nuts! We have proof of the goal being scored.
“Surely they could have gone to the bench.”
“I cannot believe my eyes,” Cox said.
Since the incident, Burgess – who is in England’s netball Hall of Fame – has taken to Twitter to expose one of the hateful messages he was subjected to, and his subsequent response.
7NEWS.com has chosen not to publish the hateful messages.
“You see it’s quite easy to miss something going on the other end of the court in a split second of time, especially when players are contesting up your end of the court,” Burgess replied to the troll who called him “a piece of s*** umpire,” amongst other derogatory terms.
“Your problem, however, is what you’ve written here in black and white is actually breaking international hate speech laws.
“I have contacted the Police in WA. You shouldn’t be that hard to find given that you’ve shared your current town and the school you went to in NZ. You have a good day.”
The two-time World Cup and Commonwealth Games finals umpire accompanied the screenshots with multiple tweets.
“I’m not posting this for your sympathy, I have developed an incredibly thick skin over the years. I know my own performance and I have trained assessors to provide the feedback that matters.
“But… I am challenging you to call out this stuff each and every time, to call out the enablers, the likers and sharers. The people that always say of bullies, ‘well, they’ve never done anything to me’ when they know exactly what that person is like or has done or those really ‘helpful’ people who forward on comments and articles you could have easily gone without seeing!
“You give these people the fuel to continue. Whether you are or aren’t in the group that’s being marginalised is irrelevant. I did often ‘joke’ that Netball Facebook was far worse than Netball Twitter but everywhere you look now you see hate, uneducated views & utter nastiness.
“I find myself muting 100’s of people everyday so I don’t have to see it but it becomes unending. People are entitled to their opinion, to challenge with good intent & to ask questions, but I challenge you all to think about the impact of what you post, the impact on the people that read it (that then add their own 5 pence worth).
“But most important, the people you write this stuff about & their friends & their families, those who have to pick up the pieces every time you decide to or let others, destroy a piece of their soul. Time for a break.”
The Diamonds ended the game on top, 56-60, and were crowned Quad Series champions.
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