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Female official reports attack during game in Argentina

Maria Eugenia Rocco has worked as an assistant referee at Olympic Games and Women's World Cups.

A female assistant referee has claimed she received a blow to the back of her neck from an angry player following a match between Argentino de Quilmes and Deportivo Merlo in Argentina's Primera C.

According to local media reports, visitors Deportivo Merlo were protesting to referee Jorge Broggi after Tuesday's game following two late goals in their 2-1 defeat when assistant Maria Eugenia Rocco intervened.

Rocco, who reported the incident to the police, said in La Nacion: "When the game ended and before entering the changing rooms, there was an uproar.

"Several Merlo players protested against Jorge Broggi and I intervened. They were protesting against an alleged handball in the opening goal. I told the coach to calm down, that we could talk later. The police then arrived to protect us and I felt a strong blow on the neck. I turned around and I saw the No. 7 jersey, who was walking away.

"I thought the hit was directed at the referee or someone else, but it wasn't because I was alone. He [No. 7] ran and joined his teammates. I couldn't believe that he hit me. I [then] told them [Deportivo Merlo] that No. 7 was sent off for an aggression and they began to tell me that he hadn't done anything. I felt bad but Broggi told me to be calm that he had seen everything and was going to report it.

"You always hear insults and I'm accustomed to that, but a player has never been aggressive toward me. Not even an insult by a player."

Rocco has been an assistant referee with the Argentine FA (AFA) since 2005 and an international since 2008. She worked as an assistant referee at the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008 and at the London Olympics four years ago, as well as at the Women's World Cups in 2011 and in 2015.

Argentina Referee Association (AAA) chief Federico Beligoy backed up Rocco's account and told La Nacion: "We have presented the relevant report to AFA and we will act on this grave act."

Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.

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