A rugby league semi-final in Papua New Guinea has ended in violence after the referee was punched by an official from the losing team.
The altercation sparked a brawl involving spectators at Sir John Guise Stadium in Port Moresby on Saturday, following Agmark Gurias 19-12 victory over Mount Hagen Eagles in the Digicel Cup domestic competition.
The Papua New Guinea Minister for Sport, Justin Tkatchenko, said the Mount Hagen official assaulted the referee because he didn't like the outcome of the match and said he should be banned for life.
"It is totally unacceptable. We will not allow referees to be assaulted or anybody to be assaulted in our game. We're hosting the Rugby League World Cup in 2017 and we can't afford to have primitive, uneducated individuals causing grief to our national sport for their own personal self-gain," he said.
"I will be ensuring, as Minister for Sports, that the full penalties of the assault and other things are put forward without fear or favour. The first one will be that the official get banned for life from ever participating in any rugby league competition or team and secondly this is the second or third time the Mount Hagen Eagles have breached the ethics code and rugby league rules.
"As far as I'm concerned they can be deregistered and go - out of the system. If they can't bide by the rules then they're not needed."
Justin Tkatchenko said he also plans to speak to the sponsors of the Digicel Cup and Mount Hagen Eagles about their ongoing relationship with the team.
"I will make it very clear to them that if they continue to sponsor the Hagen Eagles they are basically embracing what has just happened. They must (condemn) it at the highest level and they must remove their funding immediately," he said.
"We've got to be hard on this, we can't be pussy-stepping around. We've got to make sure that people understand that they can't get away with these kind of actions anymore."
The PNG National Rugby League, which administers the Digicel Cup, has been asked to investigate the incident and return their findings to the PNG Rugby Football League within five days.
The incident comes almost one year after a drunk fan threw a beer can at one of the visiting referees from Queensland, following the Digicel Cup final between the Agmark Gurias and Simbu Lion, and a member of the Simbu team attacked an official.
The Lions were stripped of their prize money by the PNG National Rugby League Board.