Deaf footballer Craig Beech (pictured) has played more than 120 matches over six seasons without any problems.
But during his latest match, the keen sportsman was ordered off the pitch by a health and safety mad referee who claimed his hearing aids were 'dangerous'.
Mr Beech, 23, a retail worker of Dinnington, South Yorkshire, has worn the devices since the age of four.
He said: 'Everyone on the pitch was shocked.
'My teammates were pretty angry and upset. I didn't want to do anything to make it worse but they argued my point and even the other team said they were okay with it.'
Mr Beech's local pub team, Masons Arms, in Wickersley, South Yorkshire, were losing 1-0 to rivals The Pewter Pot when the match was halted midway through the first half.
Referee Gary Mellor spotted the hearing aids when Mr Beech was having treatment for a knock.
Early in the second half he told Masons that the game could not continue while he was still wearing the aids.
Mr Beech offered to cover the devices with a waterproof band he uses when it rains but five minutes later the game was stopped.
His loyal teammates refused to carry on without him.
Mr Beech said: 'No-one would get hurt but without the aids I can't hear the whistle or other people and that would be more dangerous to other players.
'If the ref blows and I don't hear it, I might carry on and go in for a tackle someone is not expecting. Players even wear electronic tags on the pitch now and they are also more dangerous because they are really hard. And one of the opposition was wearing a tag.'
Lol Clarke, who has been the secretary of Masons for 20 years, said: 'I've never seen anything like it. These days I've seen players with electronic tags and they just cover them up and it's accepted.
'It was sad to end on a sour note. It was a close game between two sides near the top of the table, great weather and not a bad word from anyone.
'But our lads said they weren't carrying on if Craig couldn't. They wanted to get the game over and then let the officials look at it.
'Craig's a quiet lad, gets on with things and his hearing has never been an issue.
'He's really grown in stature since he's been on the team.'
Thomas Lyons development officer for the Deaf Football Project and the National Deaf Children's Society hit out at the decision.
He said : 'All football clubs, coaches, referees and officials should take responsibility for supporting deaf players and addressing their needs.
'Involving deaf young people in football is great for their confidence, social skills and team work, and they should have the same opportunities to access the beautiful game as other young people.
'Our Deaf Friendly FC project breaks down barriers. We urge clubs, leagues and other professional bodies to take simple steps to open up the sport to deaf players.'
League Secretary Lee Beckett said: 'We have an all-inclusive policy to allow anyone to play as long as it is safe for all participants. As an onfield incident the FA will make a decision and we will follow their lead.'
A spokeswoman for the Sheffield and Hallamshire FA said a report had been received about the abandoned match.
She added: 'The report will be considered and charges for breach of FA rules will be preferred as appropriate and necessary.
'We will then await a response from the club which will include an explanation of events and any mitigation before the disciplinary committee come to a decision on the incident.'
Rotherham Referees' Association said it may comment after hearing from the league and FA.
Monday, March 5, 2012
The Daily Mail in the UK:
Posted by BA Haller at 12:04 AM