An amateur footballer has been banned from watching or playing in regulated games for the next three years after verbally abusing a gay referee.

The unnamed gay referee said he received anti-gay abuse from Mujo Ahmetovic during a game at Chaddesden Race Course, Derby, telling the police Ahmetovic had said he should not be involved in the sport because he was gay.

Ahmetovic admitted using threatening and abusive words or behaviour to cause fear of violence, the Derby Telegraph reports, but said he was not aware of the referee’s sexual orientation.

He denied using homophobic language himself, saying this was issued by a group of supporters nearby.

Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court heard accounts of a dispute between the referee and Ahmetovic over a corner kick when the defendant was waiting on the sidelines during the first half of the match.

When he came on to play in the second half and was asked by the referee to remove his earring, Ahmetovic began shouting abuse.

Prosecutors said this was when the homophobic comments were made, though the defendant maintained he had not made any himself, attributing them to nearby supporters whom he had “wound up”.

Magistrate Derek Lees said: “This was totally immature behaviour – you were quite out of control.”

Ahmetovic was banned from watching or playing in any regulated football games for the next three years, given 180 hours of unpaid work, told to pay £450 court costs. He must also pay the referee £200 in compensation.