A linesman has been chased off the pitch by a spectator after a youth football match turned ugly.
Players looked on as the official fled the pitch shortly after the final whistle during an under-18s game in Dorset on Sunday.
In a video that has been seen nearly two million times online, a man, said to be a non-uniformed official who was spectating, is seen pursuing the flag-waving linesman.
The row erupted at the Camp and Satherley Stadium on the island of Portland, off the coast of Weymouth, after Portland United Under-18s defeated Merley Cobham Sports Under-18s 2-1.
An investigation has now been launched, with clubs condemning the “unacceptable behaviour”.
Ref Support, a charity that helps referees at grassroots level, posted a video of the clash on Twitter and wrote: “Just imagine being the ref at Portland Under-18s vs Merley Cobham Sports Under-18s and this happens to you after the game.
“Trying to find out more about this and hope the lino is OK. This is yet another sign of how football is falling into an abyss of abuse and people want us to shut up about it.”
It sparked a flood of comments from other social media users who said they had witnessed altercations at their local matches.
One, Harry Oaten, wrote: “Under-15s game today – referee makes a correct decision [and] a spectator invades the pitch to confront the referee about the decision.”
Another commented: “I had to stop an Under-12 game because two supporters came onto the pitch and threatened me and refused to leave until I gave a free kick which was undeserved. It’s stuff like this why nobody wants to be a ref.”
‘Unwavering support’ for officials
Portland United FC said it was “currently investigating within the club and with the local Dorset FA”.
A statement said: “At the conclusion of the football game a uniformed football official and a non-uniformed official allegedly had an altercation on the pitch.
“Portland United will not tolerate this action and has forwarded evidence collected at the game to the relevant governing body. At no point did a spectator enter the field of play.”
Merley Cobham Sports FC said in a statement that it would “like to express our complete and unwavering support regarding the respect for all officials within the sport and strongly condemn any such incidents of unacceptable behaviour within our game”.