BUSINESS
09/25/2012 02:14 pm ET Updated Nov 25, 2012

New Jersey Replacement Referee Ban To Be Introduced By Legislator

By Dave Warner

Sept 25 (Reuters) - A New Jersey legislative leader wants to ban NFL replacement referees from his state after a disputed call cost the Green Bay Packers their Monday night game.

New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney, an admitted Packers fan, said on Tuesday he will introduce a bill to ban replacement officials from calling any professional sports event in New Jersey, home to two NFL teams, the Giants and Jets.

Monday's disputed call was the latest controversy involving officials brought in to replace regular NFL referees who have been locked out of this season's games due to a labor dispute with the NFL.

In a written statement on Tuesday, Sweeney, a Democrat cited the risk to player safety. He later said he equated the use of replacement referees with consumer fraud.

"Enough is enough," Sweeney said in a telephone interview. "To me, it's like fraud... It is not the product that people are paying for. Maybe people should start to demand refunds on their tickets."

An NFL fan, Sweeney follows the Green Bay Packers, who on Monday lost 12-14 to the Seattle Seahawks in what has become one of the biggest officiating controversies of the season. The Seahawks won the game at the last second on a call when two officials appeared to disagree.

"Clueless in Seattle," is how ESPN billed the controversy on its web site on Tuesday.

Sweeney said in a written statement that his foremost concern was keeping players safe by shutting out "inexperienced referees who cannot control a game".

He said, "We wouldn't allow a factory or construction site to operate without fully trained supervisors on hand to ensure the safety of employees. Why should we do anything differently when the job site is a playing field?"

There was no immediate comment from the office of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. (Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Andrew Hay)