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 By Chris Wright

French referee replaced by amateur from crowd, who gives two red cards

The French third division kicked into life with a bang this past weekend, with the opening day fixture between SR Colmar and FC Chambly producing two red cards and a 97th-minute penalty equaliser. It also saw the referee replaced by an amateur from the crowd.

Just 22 minutes in, referee Dimitri Kristo was forced off with an injury. However, as with all Championnat National matches, there was no fourth official on duty to step in, and with nobody to officiate, the game looked in real danger of being abandoned.

However, the stadium announcer put out a desperate message over the public address system asking whether anybody in the crowd was an officially qualified referee.

Incredibly, a chap who refereed in the local amateur league answered the call, stepped forth and, after a 10 minute delay, emerged from the touchline to oversee the remainder of the game.

He didn't have an easy afternoon, either, with Chambly finishing up with nine men on the pitch after conceding a dramatic equaliser from the penalty spot deep into stoppage time.

Here's hoping there was a bottle of decent red wine waiting in the replacement referee's dressing room after the match.

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