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Referee Takes Gun Onto Soccer Field After Spat With Players In Brazil

A dispute over a call in a soccer match boiled over to the point that a referee brought out a pistol on the field this weekend near the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte. The referee, who is also a policeman, reportedly felt threatened and wanted to take control of the situation.

The referee is meeting with league officials today and could face disciplinary action.

Video of the scene has reached social media and YouTube, depicting what a Bleacher Report writer calls "crazy scenes." In the footage shot by a spectator, referee Gabriel Murta, 27, is seen being restrained by another official while he holds his weapon in one hand and points at a team manager with the other.

According to media reports in Brazil, Murta had been slapped and kicked by a player after he decided not to give a red-card penalty over a foul. The manager and reserve players from the team Amantes da Bola (Lovers of the Ball) also rushed onto the field to argue, according to the G1 Minas Gerais website.

A brief snippet of the video seems to show a player running off the field as the armed referee chases after him from about 40 yards away.

Giuliano Bozzano, who holds positions with both the Minas Gerais Football Federation and the National Association of Football Referees, says that Murta will attend a meeting along with a psychologist today.

Bozzano said, according to Yahoo Sports:

" 'On the basis of that conversation and his account of events and the results of the psychological assessment I'll decide what if any measures to take.

" 'What's happened is obviously not a common occurrence and I don't want to rush into anything.

" 'At the moment it happened he's opted for getting his gun because in his view it was a question of controlling a situation.' "

The incident in Minas Gerais comes two years after a Brazilian referee stabbed and killed a player he had ejected from an amateur game. The referee was then killed by angry fans in the crowd. The killings happened in the northeast state of Maranhão, west of Recife.

Update: Our initial report used Murta's full name: Gabriel Murta Barbosa Maciel. We then referred to him as Barbosa on second reference — but neglected to update that reference when we decided to go with the shorter form of his name. We've corrected the oversight — thanks to the reader who asked about it.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.