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Safeguarding | Referee Registration 2020/21

Changes To The Safeguarding Requirements For Referee Registration 2020-21

The Coronavirus has impacted on our ability to implement certain of our safeguarding requirements linked with the club affiliation, referee registration and coach licensing administrative processes.

These processes have been impacted since the start of the Government’s implementation of the lockdown and social distancing requirements and will potentially still be impacted when grassroots football restarts in the 2020-21 season. 

This paper documents The FA’s changes to its safeguarding requirements for referee registration, as a result of us not being able to: 

  • Carry out new Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks due to a lack of face to face ID verification
  • Deliver our face-to-face Safeguarding Children Workshops (SCW) 
  • Deliver the Referee qualification, which requires the SCW as part of the qualification 

The project team at The FA which oversees the Safeguarding Operating Standard for County FAs has reviewed the risks, mitigations and opportunities to ensure that when football restarts our safeguards are managed effectively.  

Whilst FA safeguarding policies and regulations remain the same, we are amending some administrative processes and timelines for safeguarding requirements to be met. The FA is continually monitoring the Government’s position on lockdown and social distancing and will identify the earliest possible date to restart face-to-face ID verification for DBS checks and safeguarding, coaching and refereeing workshops. 

Temporary changes for 2020-21  
Referees registering to officiate in youth football are required by The FA to have an in-date DBS and safeguarding training that is in date for the start of 2020-21 season. The changes to the referee registration process are summarised in Table 3:  

Actions by The FA / CFAs  
Whilst no football is currently being played, when football restarts, the work to monitor and drive compliance will continue to be a priority for the County FA Referee Development Officers (RDOs), with oversight from The FAs Refereeing and Grassroots Delivery Teams. 
I. These changes will be made by The FA in CRM. 2 If a referee turns 16 years old before football resumes, County FA RDOs to track and initiate DBS at earliest opportunity.  Referees have 21 days to complete this process. 

II. When football restarts, anyone carrying out regulated activity with U18s, including referees (in accordance with DBS guidance) must have an Enhanced DBS3 with a check of the Children’s Barring List before they commence their role in football. 

III. County FAs, statutory agencies and others will continue to refer any concerns raised to The FA in the usual timely manner, and these will be managed in line with our safeguarding policy and regulations. 

IV. All existing referees have completed prior safeguarding training. The FA and CFAs will promote the free online ‘Playmaker’ course, including the safeguarding module to Referees who have not attended a SCW and promote the SCW as soon as social distancing measures enable these workshops to take place.  

V. County FAs will ensure that those referees who have previously done the SCW update via the free online Safeguarding Children recertification course by the start of the 2021-22 season. 

VI. The FA will send a letter to all referees reminding them of their safeguarding responsibilities and requirements, including that they must not officiate youth games without having an in-date DBS check and signposting them to relevant safeguarding information.

NB Separately, all CFA RDOs will continue to ensure that all U18 referee accounts have a linked parent.  
The average processing time by the DBS for online checks carried out in football in March 2020, from start to completion, was 16 days. If this continues to be an accurate indication of processing time in future, then new checks can be completed reasonably swiftly.