Respect and Referees

Respect is the collective responsibility of everyone involved in football, at all levels, to create a fair, safe and enjoyable environment in which the game can take place. It is the behavioural code for football.

Respect is a continuous FA programme, not a one-off initiative.

What do we want to achieve with Respect?

1. There will be a base of registered referees in England sufficient for the demands of the game at every level.
2. There will be zero tolerance for assaults on referees.
3. There will be an improvement in on-field player discipline, particularly in the area of dissent to referees and in competitions that have an established record of poor discipline.
4. There will be a ‘step change‘ in youth football on what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour from parents and spectators.
5. We will work with coaches to create an enjoyable learning environment for children’s football.

The Referee’s Role:

It is important to recognise that an essential skill in refereeing is having the ability to communicate effectively with players. Respect is designed to support this skill, and to support the referee’s key role in controlling a match.

Referees should continue to talk to individual players as necessary. However when harassment, abuse or challenging behaviour is exhibited referees are asked to use their powers under Law 12.

Law 12 deals with two key areas, fouls and misconduct. It clearly identifies and lists offences – such as holding or pushing – for which a referee can stop play to award direct free kicks. It also lists the offences for which a player is cautioned or sent off. So a player committing a tripping offence has a free-kick awarded against them but also may be sanctioned with a caution if the referee deems the challenge to be reckless.

Alternatively if the challenge is so severe excessive force is used, which may injure the opponent, then the offending player is sent off.

Law 12 also covers the sanctions which can be applied for dissent by word or action and the use of insulting or abusive language and/or gestures. Referees should show due respect when speaking with players, even in the event of infringements.

We all have a responsibility to promote high standards of behaviour in the game. The behaviour of the match officials has an impact, directly and indirectly, on the conduct of everyone involved in the game – both on the pitch and on the sidelines. For full details of a Referee’s role – view the Referees Respect Guide below.

Monitoring Respect

You may be asked to help Lancashire FA to monitor if the Respect programme is having a positive impact on behaviour. If the league to which you are appointed uses The FA's league administration system Full-Time you can provide feedback on matches that you officiate at. This is a simple task that will only take a few minutes each week. If you would like more information on how to get involved please contact Steve Stewart, Referee Development Manager.

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