They might have been expected to set an example, and old enough to know better, but an over-35s football match between two police forces had to be abandoned when the match officials were abused after two players were sent off.
Marbella Police were leading the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) 3-2 in a match at the World Police and Fire Games, being held in Belfast, when tempers flared.
One of the Marbella players was sent off for pushing a PSNI player over, quickly followed by a teammate who was remonstrating at the red card.
With the team down to nine men, management and touchline staff from the Spanish team began venting their fury at the referee and one of the assistant referees.
Repeated warnings were issues about their behaviour but when they continued to harangue the match officials the decision was taken to abandon the game 75 minutes into the contest. Games organisers cited the “continued inappropriate behaviour” by the team from Marbella, which is understood to have forfeited the match.
A spokeswoman for the Games said: “Continued inappropriate behaviour by the Spanish team led the referee to call off the game with 15 minutes of play remaining.”
The Games, described as the third-largest international multi-sport event in the world, include 56 sports with almost 7,000 competitors and have been watched by tens of thousands of people in Belfast. Among the events is the Ultimate Firefighter which was watched by 4,000 people at the Titanic Slipway.