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!