A former member of the Samoa football team has been sentenced to nine months home detention for punching and breaking the jaw of a referee in a New Zealand club match.

The Manukau District Court in Auckland heard that Tama Fasavalu, 36, struck referee Len Gattsche after receiving a second yellow card in a match between his Manukau City club side and Tauranga City in April.

Gattsche needed two and a half hours of surgery to repair his jaw which was broken in three places.

Judge Sharon McAuslan said she considered sending Fasavalu to prison but took into account his early guilty plea and character references.

Fasavalu told reporters outside court he regretted his actions ''but it would never have prevailed if I was treated fair like every other player.''