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Ernie Lunardelli, one in every of two refs who walked off the sector in protest after 4 Monroe Excessive College soccer gamers took a knee throughout the nationwide anthem, plans to take authorized motion now that he has been faraway from future officiating badignments for the rest of the common season.

Ernie Lunardelli and his son Anthony, who additionally walked off the sector in protest previous to Friday night time’s recreation in opposition to Colts Neck, had their Larger Middlebad Convention officiating badignments rescinded immediately for the remainder of the yr.

READ: EDITORIAL: Ref walkout a grandstand play

Thomas Paulikas, the league’s badigner, advised that the Lunardellis have been faraway from a Nov. 6 jayvee recreation they have been scheduled to officiate between South Brunswick and Monroe and a Nov. 23 varsity recreation for which they have been booked between North Brunswick and South Brunswick. Ernie Lunardelli had already been faraway from his task to officiate a recreation between Raritan and Spotswood a day after he walked off Monroe’s discipline in protest.

Ernie Lunardelli, who has retained an legal professional, mentioned “unquestionably” he plans to take authorized motion, which can embody searching for an injunction to have his badignments reinstated. Ernie Lunardelli mentioned he believes his due course of rights have been violated as a result of Paulikas eliminated him from officiating badignments with out an investigation into his actions and that he’s being “discriminated” in opposition to for strolling off the sector as a result of he believes taking a knee throughout the anthem is disrespectful.

READ: N.J. highschool soccer refs stroll off discipline in protest after gamers take knee throughout anthem

“Anyone that disrespects the flag, in my eyes, it’s not proper,” mentioned Ernie Lunardelli, a veteran scholastic soccer official in his 18th season. “What they’re doing with this kneeling and all the things, they’ve the correct do to that, however the nationwide anthem has nothing to do with them kneeling. The flag has obtained nothing to do with why they’re protesting. In the event that they wish to protest, allow them to protest, however don’t disrespect our nation, the flag and the armed forces.”

In a press release launched late Monday afternoon by his legal professional Michael V. Dowgin, Lunardelli tempered his remarks, saying that “a dialogue is perhaps acceptable, and the place we are able to higher perceive why younger gamers kneel, and why they kneel on the time they do. Additionally, the place they will possibly perceive why we refused to officiate a soccer recreation, and why we did it on the time we selected. There are rights and wrongs on each side and we might welcome that dialogue if an acceptable discussion board will be organized.”

READ: The badertion launched Monday afternoon by referee

Paulikas advised he eliminated Lunardelli from his remaining video games as a result of he didn’t understand how Lunardelli would react if a participant or gamers took a knee at future contests and since he didn’t really feel Lunardelli might return to Monroe to officiate this yr.

Scott Heiser, chairman of the Central Jersey Chapter of the New Jersey Soccer Officers Affiliation (NJFOA), mentioned he’ll conduct an emergency board of badessment listening to later this week to look at the Lunardellis’ conduct.

NJSIAA Govt Director Steve Timko mentioned the statewide athletics affiliation is conscious of the Lunardellis’ protest and that the Central Jersey Chapter of the NJFOA is chargeable for “offering a first-level of due course of badociated to any dispute involving officers.”

“NJSIAA has been notified that the NJFOA has scheduled a listening to for this Wednesday,” Timko mentioned. “Any enchantment to a Central Jersey Chapter ruling would go to the NJSIAA for a listening to. As a result of that is an energetic matter — and to make sure due course of for all concerned — the NJSIAA will chorus from commenting on specifics. Whereas we definitely perceive the curiosity on this challenge, it’s crucial we permit for due course of.”

COLUMN: NJSIAA should bench refs who walked out on soccer recreation as a consequence of anthem protest

‘Planning on doing these video games’

Ernie Lunardelli mentioned he’s “mad” about being faraway from officiating video games for the remainder of the season.

“I used to be planning on doing these video games,” he mentioned. “It’s taking away what I like doing. I obtained an e-mail that I used to be faraway from the video games. They didn’t have the (intestinal fortitude) to name me or inform me why. No person has contacted me. They only eliminated me. To me, I believe that’s mistaken. They need to be man sufficient to have a convention with me and focus on and supply proof of why you are able to do that. I don’t know what proof they’ve that they will simply robotically take me off a recreation. I didn’t do something mistaken, and that’s discriminating in opposition to me.”

In his badertion Monday afternoon, which his lawyer mentioned can be the final time Lunardelli would touch upon the scenario, the referee mentioned he and his son “wish to keep out of the media  any longer. We might have requested for it, however now wish to return being nameless. We additionally wish to return to officiating video games. We don’t consider we have now performed something that ought to deny us that proper.”

Concerning Wednesday’s listening to, Heiser mentioned the Lunardellis will likely be invited to testify, together with coaches, athletics administrators and directors from each excessive colleges, in addition to all members of the officiating crew together with the 2 cadets who have been thrust into responsibility as replacements.

“We will definitely endeavor to ensure we get a full account of what occurred so we’re in one of the best place to make any judgments insofar as did our officers act in an unprofessional method and may there be any self-discipline consequently,” Heiser mentioned. “Stories have surfaced that this was not a spontaneous response, however reasonably one thing pre-planned, and others have been beforehand conscious. That’s what is inflicting us in a management place on the New Jersey Soccer Officers Affiliation and the NJSIAA some consternation at the moment.”

Ernie Lunardelli mentioned he advised Paulikas weeks in the past that he would stroll off the sector and refuse to officiate any recreation during which gamers took a knee throughout the anthem. Paulikas mentioned no such dialog ever occurred and that he was unaware of Ernie Lunardelli’s disposition. Ernie Lunardelli additionally mentioned he and his son advised officers from each excessive colleges of their intentions about 75 minutes previous to kickoff.

Heiser mentioned the listening to will search to find out if Paulikas was conscious of Ernie Lunardelli’s disposition and if Paulikas ought to have badigned Lunardelli to Friday night time’s recreation after it had been extensively reported all through the state that Monroe gamers started taking a knee final month.

“Is that this one thing that would have been prevented?” Heiser requested. “May (the Lunardellis) have been eliminated and rebadigned in some unspecified time in the future beforehand?”

Heiser mentioned the listening to will even look to find out if the Fb account of Ernie Lunardelli was hacked, as Ernie Lunardelli advised, or if Ernie Lunardelli truly made a racist touch upon social media.

READ: Highschool soccer ref who walked out on recreation denies he wrote racist Fb put up

Ernie Lunardelli mentioned he by no means wrote the phrases, “Thanks for f***ing up the nation!! Again to the zoo!!!” in reply to a Jan. 20 Fb put up that includes an image of Michelle and Barack Obama that thanked them for his or her service to the nation.

“I didn’t write it,” Ernie Lunardelli mentioned of the remark hooked up to his Fb profile, including he’s not a racist. “Any person is attempting to trigger issues. I used to be hacked at one time. I don’t bear in mind when it was. I needed to change all the things. I don’t bear in mind when it was, although.”

Heiser mentioned the New Jersey Officers Affiliation is “numerous and tolerant of everybody” and that those that “are illiberal and insensitive to individuals of various backgrounds and views actually haven’t any place in our group,” which has about 225 members.

Taking a knee

4 Monroe gamers first joined the rising variety of gridiron gamers in any respect ranges nationwide who’re protesting racial inequality and police brutality after they took a knee previous to a Sept. 28 recreation at New Brunswick.

“I don’t have any remark concerning the officers’ robust views,” Heiser mentioned. “They’re entitled. We’re not a political group. The New Jersey Soccer Officers Affiliation is a splendidly numerous group comprised of individuals of many alternative backgrounds and views. My concern is did they act professionally and responsibly in one of the best curiosity of these we serve. We are going to badessment their conduct in these phrases.”

Heiser mentioned he feels badly for gamers from Colts Neck and Monroe who’ve been thrust into the nationwide highlight because the Lunardellis walked off the sector, a call that was met with seemingly equal help and derision throughout social media, reflecting how divided the nation is on the difficulty of taking a knee.

“They’re originally of their mental awakening and being bombarded by these loud and complicated messages,” Heiser mentioned. “I wish to suppose they may look to adults — together with officers concerned in newbie sports activities — that we proceed to help them and we’re a optimistic affect, not a damaging or disruptive one. Above all, it’s exceedingly essential that we act professionally and responsibly. In a vacuum, it doesn’t seem that (the Lunardellis’ conduct Friday night time) was the kind of habits I’d anticipate from my officers.”

Hesier, who himself is a crew chief, mentioned he seemingly would have beneficial suspending Friday night time’s recreation, which Colts Neck received 18-13, reasonably than contesting it with two uncertified cadets in coaching as replacements for the Lunardellis. Hesier mentioned officers from each colleges praised the cadets for his or her on-field efficiency.

“If we choose (the Lunardellis’) habits to be unprofessional or irresponsible, in impact by abandoning an accepted task, an officiating contract they successfully had with these colleges, that’s problematic so far as we’re involved,” Heiser mentioned. “That’s the place they could have run afoul of our bylaws and rules, they usually might must undergo sanctions consequently.”

Monroe Athletics Director Greg Beyer, who declined to touch upon the officers’ determination to stroll off the sector Friday night time and who beforehand acknowledged he doesn’t know the names of the 4 Monroe gamers, advised earlier this month that district coverage permits the varsity’s student-athletes to peacefully protest.

“Now we have to observe what’s within the coverage,” Beyer mentioned, “and just about the coverage is that if a child doesn’t wish to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, that’s his constitutional proper, so we have now to deal with it (taking a knee throughout the enjoying of the anthem) the identical precise method.”

In juxtaposition to Monroe permitting its student-athletes to take a knee throughout the enjoying of the anthem, the principal at Parkway, a public highschool in Louisiana, knowledgeable his gamers previous to their recreation on Sept. 29 that such protests might lead to them being faraway from the staff.

Marjorie Esman, govt director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, advised The New York Instances that Parkway and every other colleges that undertake comparable insurance policies “needs to be on discover that these insurance policies are actually unconstitutional” as a result of “the regulation doesn’t allow colleges to forbid college students from expressing their views.”

Kevin Ciak, president of the Nationwide College Boards Affiliation and president of the Sayreville Board of Training, shared with an official badertion from the NSBA which gives college districts with steering.

“Courts have persistently upheld that college students don’t shed their first modification rights on the schoolhouse door, supplied such expression doesn’t create a disruption to the tutorial course of,” the badertion reads partly.

Parochial colleges and dioceses that govern them can and have established their very own insurance policies concerning the conduct of student-athletes throughout the enjoying of the anthem.

Whereas the Diocese of Metuchen, which oversees Bishop Ahr in Edison, has not supplied its colleges with steering concerning anthem protests, in line with Bishop Ahr Athletics Director Mike Wolfthal, the Diocese of Camden issued a directive final yr that any student-athletes who didn’t stand for the anthem at sporting occasions may very well be suspended or dismissed from the staff.

Not less than two Supreme Court docket rulings shield college students’ rights to peacefully protest on campus throughout college hours and occasions. The Supreme Court docket in 1969 dominated that public college college students who wished to put on black armbands in protest of the Vietnam Battle throughout college hours might accomplish that. A 1943 Supreme Court docket ruling involving Jehovah Witnesses who have been expelled from college for not reciting the Pledge of Allegiance mentioned public college college students couldn’t be pressured to salute the American flag or recite the pledge if it conflicted with their non secular beliefs.

On Sept. 24, many NFL gamers took a knee or elected to stay within the locker room throughout the enjoying of the anthem, following the lead one yr later of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who was the primary skilled participant to take a knee in protest.

The greater than 200 NFL gamers who protested on Sept. 24 did so every week after President Donald Trump mentioned the league’s homeowners ought to hearth gamers who protest throughout the anthem.