A HAMPSHIRE referee was reduced to tears and forced to abandon a match after suffering sexist abuse from spectators.

Shelby Davis, pictured, was left so distressed after a man yelled at her to “get her handbag and go home” that she could not continue with the match and called it off during half-time.

The 21-year-old was in floods of tears following the insults which were made during an under-15s Hampshire cup match between Wyvern Youths and Pirelli Pirates Youth in Southampton.

Hampshire football chiefs, who run a Daily Echo-backed Respect the Ref campaign, have now launched an investigation into the incident, which happened as the teams played at Totton and Eling football ground.

Wyvern Youth were 2-0 up in the first half when they scored a third just before half-time.

However, although Miss Davis, a referee with years of experience, initially allowed the goal, after discussions with her linesman, she disallowed it.

It was at this point that a parent of one of the players, believed to play for Pirelli, allegedly shouted: “You should not be involved in football. Get your handbag and go home.”

The match continued to half-time but it was during the break that she decided she was too upset to continue into the second half and abandoned the match.

One spectator said: “It was the worst thing I have ever seen at a football match. The referee was in floods of tears, it was just awful and I hope I don’t ever witness something like that again.”

Daily Echo:

Wyvern’s manager Ryan Andress said that the club could not comment on the incident but that the club was fully behind any decision made by the Hampshire FA, which is now investigating what happened.

No one from Hampshire FA or Pirelli were available for comment.

Shelby, from Chandler’s Ford, was part of the first all-female team to officiate a football match in the Wessex League, since the league was established in 1986.

In 2008, the then 16-year-old joined referee Lucy May, then 19, and assistant Hollie Moisey, then 17, to be an assistant in the Wessex Combination Cup match between Blackfield and Langley Rovers against Christchurch Reserves.

This morning, Hampshire FA released the following statement about the incident.

It said: "We can confirm that a report has been received from the referee of the match between Wyvern Youth U15 and Pirelli Pirates Youth U15 on 15 September 2013.

Following an initial investigation, Pirelli Pirates Youth FC have been charged with causing the match to be abandoned, misconduct by club spectators and spectators making comments deemed to be of discriminatory nature.

The club have until 3rd October 2013 to respond to the charge.

It would not be appropriate for us to comment further in relation to this case whilst disciplinary procedures are ongoing.

Hampshire FA do not tolerate and are fully committed to tackling discrimination.”