Referee Abuse Must Stop

I have not written for a while and was going to make a comeback during the upcoming World Cup in Russia, but something has come to light this week which has angered me so much that I had air my views.

A video of a referee that was chased and kicked on the floor after blowing for full-time in an amateur cup final in London was released. This is without a doubt the most appalling video of an assault on a referee in the UK that I have ever seen.


This is the worst assault on a match official we have seen on British soil.We all must stand up together or it will only get worse – Ref Support UK


Regardless if they offending team felt the referee had made none, 1, 2 or 50 errors during the match, this is no way to treat a referee. For too long abuse towards referees has been seemingly accepted as part of their job. Frankly this is absurd! Referees, like anybody in any job, should be able to do their job without fear of being attacked or abused.

How do we as a football community stop this trend of attacks on referees? Recently the FA has been issuing tougher penalties on professional players surrounding match officials when they disagree with a decision. This is a good first step as the youth players will often copy the traits of their favourite players, so if this type of behaviour can be stopped at the top it should eventually become good practice with the younger generation.

Another step would be to allow referees to wear body cams, or at the very least have a trial scheme so a study can take place of their effect. A camera would not stop someone attacking a referee but it would be a massive deterrent. Players would think twice about saying or doing anything knowing it will be recorded.

I spoke with Ref Support UK who issued this statement: “We believe the recent attack on a Referee in London record and sent to Ref Support UK should be treated as a watershed moment in our game to trigger a positive effective response from The Referees department of the FA. Ref Support UK have for a long time pushed for body cams to be allowed in football. We can see no reason why they are not allowed. IFAB recent law clarification on Cameras was,in our opinion, a reckless and irresponsible move that discriminates against grass roots referees. The elite games have the protection of match recording at every game hence assaults on match officials do no occur at professional level. We have asked IFAB and the FA to allow a pilot of body cams to investigate the benefits of allowing BWC. in Football” – Martin Cassidy CEO of Ref Support UK

I for one personally wholeheartedly agree with Martin Cassidy and Ref Support UK. I am not saying every referee needs to wear a body worn camera but the option should be there. I have officiated in some leagues where the decent is minimal. I have also officiated in some where you question why you decided to become a referee.

I consider myself very fortunate to have not been physically attacked whilst refereeing.  I have written before about an incident where after the game I was verbally abused by a player that I cautioned during the game because I would not put the caution through as a dismissal! One thing which was said to me was “I bet you love sticking the corner flag up your a**e” It was fairly early after qualifying as a referee, I didn’t know what to do next. I remember travelling home thinking to myself that there is no way that I can let this slide, I had to do something, this player and his teammates who shouted more abuse needed to be held accountable. I contact my County FA’s Referees Development officer who told me to send in a misconduct report but instead of stating the players name state the team name.

I was never told the outcome of my reports and I always wondered what happened to the main culprit and his team mates. Were they banned? I never found out, I think if referees were told of the out come of misconduct reports in would encourage more to send them in.

I cannot work out why at least a trial scheme hasn’t been initiated. If it’s tried and not proved successful then we can all say ‘at least it was tried’. But I can’t imagine it not being a success. The decision makers at the IFAB need to visit parks on a Saturday and Sunday and see what we have to deal with!

I urge anyone who reads this that agrees BWC are a good idea to follow Ref Support UK on Twitter or like their Facebook Page and keep up to date with their campaign.

Chapter 21 – Italy Vs Uruguay

There’s only one talking point from the games that took place yesterday, Luis Suarez and biting!


Something that I thought was a thing of his past, after rebuilding his reputation last season after being banned for biting Ivannovic in 2013.

From the referees point of view if he didn’t see the incident, and neither did his assistants, regardless of any marks that are there, he can’t take action.

FIFA however, can take action.

It’s a well known fact that players will do things off the ball and out of sight of the officials. Usually it’s pushing and pulling not something as serious as biting!

When FIFA look at the footage they will surely have to charge Luis Suarez. There is talk of a two year ban. Harsh? If it was the first time he’d bitten someone then yes. However it’s not the first, it’s not even the second, it’s an incredible third time!

As a fan of football, to not have Suarez playing for two years would make the game a little less exciting, as he has an incredible talent and a great scoring record.

As an official, I would support a lengthy ban. People who constantly get bans for violent conduct should be severely punished.

I’ve seen on social media some people calling for a lifetime ban. For me I wouldn’t go to that extreme……… yet!!

Chapter 20 – Uruguay Vs England

This is the hardest blog I’ve written to date.

As an Englishman I was obviously disappointed with the result, but I’m trying not to be just a fan and say the ref was rubbish and that’s the only reason England lost!

Having said that, and speaking from a referees point of view, Carlos Velasco Carballo was poor.

He correctly cautioned the Uruguayan captain Godin for handball but he should’ve cautioned him again for a foul on Daniel Sturridge. That foul in itself could’ve been a red card, had it been deemed as violent conduct. A forearm to the throat is not something I could give just a free kick for!


The referee obviously saw it as he gave a free kick but he failed to show a second yellow card. Why? Even ex-premier league referee Mark Halsey tweeted his shock at Godin still being on the pitch!

Some referees, I include myself in this, will not want to issue an early red as it can spoil the game. I tend to be a lot stricter in the second half than I am in the first. Something I was criticised during an assessment from an FA assessor. Sometimes though, you have to if it’s an obvious one.

But it was dissent I was letting go, trying to understand the players frustration.

A little while ago I wrote a chapter titled “A foul is a foul”. In which I stated no matter where the foul takes place it’s a foul, whether it results in a free kick or penalty. The same theory applies to cautions after fouls. Dissent is a little bit different as that’s a personal tolerance level.

There was also a heavy challenge in the second half which went unpunished. Yes the ball was won, but the angle and speed the defender came in at, could’ve caused injury. As players safety is the referees primary concern.

Steven Gerrard was correctly cautioned for a foul. Although at the time I shouted at my tele something along the lines of “get up! That’s never a foul!” Having seen the replays I must give credit where credits due and say that was a good decision.

The game finished with 1 booking for each side. There should’ve been a few more, and not just for Uruguay!

Ref rating 5/10

Chapter 19 – Cameroon Vs Croatia

Why do professional footballers act so stupid when playing in the biggest tournament of their careers? I am of course referring to the red card issued to Cameroon’s Alex Song in this group A clash.

I can almost understand a reaction like Pepe’s the other night. Furious with an opponents play acting that could lead to him being sent off that he angrily confronts that opponent and get gets carried away. Stupid, but almost understandable. Certainly not excusable.

However, the most stupid moment of the World Cup so far has to go to Alex Song.

With 5 minutes to go to the break, Cameroon must’ve been wishing for the halftime whistle to come as quickly as possible so they could regroup and try to come back from being 1-0 down. But then comes the moment that pretty much hands the win and 3 points to Croatia.

With a ball being played over the halfway line to the left hand side by Croatia, Mandzukic runs up the pitch to offer his support in the attack. He is closely followed by Alex Song. Who, for reasons known only to the Cameroon player, strikes Mandzukic in the back. The referee was in the perfect position no more than 20 yards away with a clear view.


Possibly the easiest decision the Portuguese referee Pedro Proenca will make this summer!

There was also and incident in the last few minutes where Assou-Ekotto and Moukandjou had a disagreement and heads where shoved in Pepe style and they were pulled apart by fellow players. It was a good job the referee missed it or there could’ve been a couple more red cards!


With the exception of the opening game, I think the standard of refereeing in this tournament has been very good. Having said that players like Song and Pepe are not exactly making life difficult for the officials!

Ref rating 7/10

Chapter 18 – Germany Vs Portugal

The level of stupidity of some players never ceases to amaze me. Yes Muller over reacted when Pepe accidentally caught him in the face but for Pepe to go up to him and shove his head into Muller’s was nothing short of stupid!

20140618-135333-50013038.jpgThis was an easy decision for the referee to send Pepe off.

But should there be consequences for players overacting? I think there should be but it’ll always be difficult to prove in the time referees have, whether a player is feigning injury or is actually really hurt.

Towards the end of last season in a previous blog I mentioned the idea of video replays or revises the day after games to assist in punishing divers. I think this could also help punish those that have been fouled but act like they’ve been hit by a sniper!

Players who roll several times or bang the floor as if in agony then get up with nothing wrong them are a real pet hate of mine! But you can’t decide to book some just because they’re not hurt!

Ref rating 7/10