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Premier League plans discipline crackdown

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David Bond | 21:49 UK time, Thursday, 31 March 2011

Public concern at the way footballers behave has been around since long before the Premier League came into existence.

Whether on the pitch or off it, football's highly paid players and managers attract controversy and criticism unrivalled by any other sport in Britain.

This season has been no exception. From Ashley Cole firing an air rifle at a Chelsea trainee to Manchester United and Liverpool players getting involved in mass confrontations, the problem never seems to get any better despite the intense levels of scrutiny.

It is against this backdrop that the 20 Premier League clubs have decided to draw a line in the sand.

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The chief executive Richard Scudamore told me in an interview that the moment had come to "raise the bar" on the standards of player and manager behaviour in English football.

Starting next season, the League, working with the League Managers' Association and the Professional Footbllers' Association, will look to introduce a new zero tolerance approach to on-field misbehaviour.

Scudamore highlights the crowding and intimidation of match officials, criticism of referees and foul and abusive language.

As the employers of players and managers, the clubs say they have the power to set new standards for professional behaviour.

They are then hopeful of persuading referees to get tougher on players who step out of line by booking and sending them off instead of turning the other cheek.

All laudable stuff and about time too, you might think.

But haven't we heard this all before? Is the situation really any worse than at any point in the last 10 years?

Scudamore acknowledges the point, saying it may not be deteriorating, but it certainly isn't getting any better.

What has changed, he suggests, is the public's capacity to accept bad behaviour from players. At a time of great economic uncertainty for many supporters, the spectacle of multi-millionaire players and managers behaving so appallingly sticks in the craw. He says they have a greater responsibility to behave.

There is also a worry that what young and amateur players see on the TV filters down to the parks at weekends. A BBC report earlier this week showed assaults on referees at grass roots have increased alarmingly this season.

So Scudamore and his team of policy advisers at the League may well have detected a shift in public mood.

The League is also, no doubt, conscious of the potential damage that is being done to the Premier League's money spinning brand. And with the London Olympics just around the corner, football and its stars will be exposed to a distinctly unflattering light when compared with the heroes of the velodrome, rowing lake and pool next summer.

But there is another motive behind Scudamore's zero tolerance crackdown.

Next Tuesday he and chairman Sir Dave Richards will face the parliamentary inquiry into football governance. It might be the Football Association who are in the select committee and government's sights but make no mistake it is the perceived failed relationship between the FA and the Premier League which put them there.

By announcing the intention to get tough with miscreants of the pitch and the dugout, Scudamore is hoping to take the sting out of any difficult questions about overpaid players being poorly disciplined and regulated.

He is also stealing a march on David Bernstein's FA by showing the League to be the innovator in football regulation at a time of structural weakness at Wembley.

This is all smart political calculation from a man widely accepted to be the best administrator in the game.

But does his new policy add up to much?

Beyond urging referees to get tougher and clubs agreeing to "raise the bar" where is the actual detail? Where is the commitment to tougher fines and other displinary measures for those who misbehave?

Sure, employers can set guidelines but when the pressure is on at the top or bottom of the table, are clubs really going to risk upsetting a star player who could be the difference between winning or losing the league?

And here is the fundamental weakness in English football - the FA's retreat from its core purpose and mission has allowed the Premier League to step in and fill the space, even though they face questions over a conflict of interest in certain areas of regulation.

It is exactly why the culture select committee is examining English football. And it is exactly why the Government continues to threaten to introduce legislation if the game doesn't take responsibility for failings which go way beyond a few on pitch brawls and bad headlines about referees.


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  • Comment number 1.


    this seems to be a rehash of the respect campaign, and we all know how well that didnt work...

  • Comment number 2.

    The final paragraphs sum up the FA and Fifa completely.
    Mere words, and not actions. This "policy" is just another diplomatic politician putting his own spin on ideas that have been tried and tested for years.

    The policy needs to assume that every player, manager and referee is an idiot, and on more than one occasion will break the rules. The policy needs to be foolproof so that that idiot can understand (and) that the mass population that views the game, can comprehend why the decision has been made.
    The policy should cut out debate following the match, as managers need not argue with a decision, and within the policy there should be instructions for the manager as to what is acceptable.

    I agree something needs to be done, children look up to footballers as role models and if footballers are behaving in an unacceptable manner (such as lobbing darts at a youth players window), then there is a clear need for change. But it requires specific guidelines, and not wishy washy inconclusive statements

  • Comment number 3.

    I can see why tougher measures are needed against abusive language and violence--if eighteen-stone rugby players address the referee as Sir, why can't an overpaid whelp?

    However, I think a sharp distinction needs to be made between abusive language, violence etc. and disrespectful comments.

    Ferguson is the best example of a manager that speaks his mind and risks the consequences, but it must be questioned why he is punished so harshly.

    If one of my lecturers wasn't any good I would be well within my rights to tell somebody about it and have it investigated. Ferguson relies on referees to get things right and when they don't does he not have the right to simply say so? Afterall, people don't actually agree that the referee was terrible just because Ferguson said so--in fact, they tend to disagree.

    Managers lower down the league have even more right to their say. It's an accepted fact nowadays that chairmen and owners often give their managers very little time to prove their suitability for the job. If a referee gives a decision that goes against a team and contributes to the manager being sacked he should be allowed to point it out.

    Violence and abuse is one thing, simply telling a referee he got it wrong is another.

  • Comment number 4.

    Shouldn't respect go both ways? An officials performance should be rated just like a players and Fergie’s talk of 'fair criticism' seems pretty justified to me.

    On footballers in the public eye, surely just as much responsibility lies with the media who choose to report a players off field antics. Admittedly it is different for players who court publicity outside of the game but even then it is for the journalist to decide whether the story is news worthy.

  • Comment number 5.

    I think the time has come to also “raise the bar" on the standard of refereeing.

    To a player a ref is like a school teacher, you know what you can and can’t get away with. With a strong ref everyone just gets on with the game. If the ref makes a mistake, it’s not a big deal, you respect them, so you move on.

    Some ways to make the refs job easier;

    - A sin bin. Being sent off for taking your shirt off to celebrate a goal is not in the spirit of the game, but refs have no choice.
    - The opportunity at the end of the game for the ref to explain contentious decisions to players, managers and the media, maybe admit a mistake, explain their interpretation of the law in question. Mistakes will be made, admit it and everyone can move on.

    My dad was a ref (me too for a short time), and I used to go along to games with him. After the match there were always discussions in the bar with the players and managers, he always made a point of doing this. Many years later I was told by one of those players that he was respected because of this.

  • Comment number 6.

    All it would take if for the correct application of the laws - a red card for all foul and/or abusive language - and things would get sorted out quickly. Can you imagine Fergie et al allowing players to abuse referees if they were dispatched for the first use of the soap every time.

    Also, any dissent move the free kick forward ten yards and keep doing so if it is repeated. As soon as it goes past the ten yard line it's a penalty. Can't see the managers allowing that to happen often.

  • Comment number 7.

    Sorry I meant 18 yard line

  • Comment number 8.

    Football should take a look to Rugby and how referees are treated with far more respect. I would like to see some of the rules from rugby brought into football. For example, if a footballer gets a yellow card give him 15 minutes in the sin bin. The money footballers are on a fine these days isn't worth the paper it's written on. Also I would say any severe back chat to a referee they have the power to reverse a decision and give 10 yards, if needs be all the way to the point where you could even award a penalty. This would surely improve the game of football and instead of the foul abuse that referees get these days it would allow the game to flow more freely. Rugby is as passionate as football yet doesn't get the disrespect of players shown on the pitch that football shows. Just a few ideas I think would seriously help the game of football.

  • Comment number 9.

    Of course referees are judged on their performances. But the far more valuable judge is the one independant and without bias. Referees are heavily, heavily monitered by the body in charge of refereeing, and performances are harshly marked.

    This isn't about mollicoddling referees. It's about using appropriate forums. Alex Ferguson has a right to his opinion and there is even a forum for him to express it. The club submits their own report to the refereeing body about a performance. If he chooses to speak out on television, he is not doing it for the benefit of officials' performances. All it does is goad the public. And that creates an extremely unpleasant and unproductive area for the referee to work in.

    Questioning an official's integrity is another issue entirely. That is gross abuse and questions the integrity of the whole sport. It's the same as claiming that the players of a team have all taken a bribe. That is why it is unacceptable.

    And bawling on the pitch is pointless and just makes the job harder. Imagine if a coach followed a player round on the criticising every action. 'Why did you do that? How dare you miss that pass? Why did you fall over; you're not fit enough?'

  • Comment number 10.

    I think there is an important difference between questioning the referee's performance then questioning a referee's integrity, as bad performances are going to happen, and perhaps the standard of refereeing is not where it should be and hopefully will be reviewed. However saying or implying the referee had a preconceived bias is completely unfair slander as it suggests the referee went out there performing bad on purpose.

  • Comment number 11.

    I just saw this story and my first thought was: early April Fools Day joke??

    But seriously, Richard Scudamore is more transparent than a piece of tracing paper - trying to score easy political points at an opportune time by rehashing a popular in theory but previously failed policy. The type of change he talks about here will never be possible until we see a focused campaign orchestrated from the very top. But you need a strong leader with the best interests of sport and not finances (or possibly nobel prizes) at heart to do so - and FIFA just don't have that unfortunately.

  • Comment number 12.

    A big problem for both the public as well as managers is the invisibility of referees after a game. While Ferguson receives criticism for his failure to talk to the BBC we still have referees hidden after the match. To earn greater respect referees should be required to explain their decisions after each game. This would help clarify their decisions rather than any controversy rumbling on for days at a time particularly after the Match of the Day team have made their comments.
    In addition, commentators like Green and Hanson cannot criticize Ferguson and others for not upholding the Respect campaign when they use terms such as "a disgrace" for the decisions of referees. Their criticism of referees may be seen as legitimate journalistic comment, but it cannot be seen as isolated from the views of fans and players at all levels of the game concerning the abilities of officials on the pitch or innovations coming from FIFA and UEFA.
    If Scudamore wants to raise the bar this should also include greater transparency from referees, the FA and the Premier League concerning their decisions and behaviour.

  • Comment number 13.

    There are too many of those overpayed players who have no respect for the officials. They will berate a referee who has got the decision correct just because it is given against their team. Sarcastic applause from the likes of Ronaldo everytime a decision goes the other way should be an instant yellow card.

  • Comment number 14.

    I'd like to say this is a good thing, but totally agree with other people that this again will be just some kind of spin to make out something is being done - when they won't.
    The behaviour of some players on the pitch is totally unacceptable irrespective of what team it is.
    We all know the cost of failure is high in football today but the crowding / confrontation of match officials is just not on. How many people like myself have played grass roots park football (now retired) and picked up bookings for swearing at referees? I know I picked up many but then you watch professional football and they are getting away with it!!!!!! Understandable when the pressures on to utter a few swear words but its totally out of order some of the words they call the referees.
    Also, I think the FA/Premier League/Referees association ought to be a little more open to criticism and not just stone wall when mistakes are made (we are all human) , however managers should have a private forum where they can openly criticise bad refereeing with the authorities without fear of reprisal.
    Maybe if the managers/coaches whern't forced to have to give an interview immediately after a match it might help calm them down a little

  • Comment number 15.

    Here on the west side of the Atlantic I am able to watch most of the Premier League's games on TV every weekend. I am convinced the increase in poor behaviour by players and managers over the years is definitely being caused by a decrease in the quality of officiating. The performance of some referees this season has been really really bad. In one game a player can get a yellow for a mild tackle in the next game a player can virtually assault another player and the referee will wave play on. What is needed is consistancy and maybe accountability on the part of the referees too. If the League is going to clamp down on the players and managers they must do something to try and eliminate the cause. The pace of the game is so high now the officials need help. Every week the broadcasters are able to show replays of incidents in seconds, it is time this technology be used by the league.

  • Comment number 16.

    Ferguson got his ban for saying that INSTEAD of getting a FAIR or strong referee, he got Martin Atkinson. His use of language made it perfectly clear what his thoughts were on the matter, and you can't tell me a manager with that many years of experience in saying exactly the right thing when a microphone is waved in his face didn't realise what he was saying.

    I've said for years, on this very forum, that Rugby could teach Football more than a few things about how to run a game. From discipline on the field to the intrusions of TV replays to assist in situations that require it. Watch the World Cup later this year.

  • Comment number 17.

    I think the referees have been struggling this year.

    There have been some really bizzare decisions, some very one-sided calling and some gutless performances where referees have avoided making some game deciding calls.

    The biggest problem referees face however, is that because the English like extra physicality, they have to allow tackles that would be fouls and cards elsewhere. Because they don't observe the letter of the law, refereeing in England is inconsistent and subjective, and it is too easy for referees to attract criticism.

  • Comment number 18.

    Comment #2 and others.

    This 'role-model' tosh is a tired old nonsense. It is up to parents to teach kids what's acceptable not sportsmen.

    They are paid to play football, nothing more.

    by this logic, pop-stars must also be role models but you would not expect Britney Spears to be sent from the stage for swearing if she reckoned she should have had a throw-in!

  • Comment number 19.

    It is the referees who need sorting out. If all and sundry can see the injustice of wrong decisions why cant the FA do something about it? From obvious incompetence (in the Man***/Blackpool fixture , even the chief critic SAF admitted that GN should have been red carded), to wrong calls (in the Sunderland/L'pool fixture a foul that clearly took place outside the box was taken inside the box and a penalty was wrongly awarded). In all such cases the FA did NOTHING. It is very good and wise to say you will crackdown on players and managers, but who will tame the incompetent referees? WHO?

  • Comment number 20.

    Mr Bond you are correct in that this is a largely pre-emptive move I think, but you also refer to "a few on pitch brawls", have I missed something? I saw an embarrassing display by Nani recently but a brawl?

    A touch sensationalist no?

    People are focusing on the referees and whilst I have seen some baffling decisions recently, van Persie's red card for one, this has always been the case, it aint about the refs.

    Standards are not dropping, but tv replays are showing us more and more things that we never picked up at normal speed.

    Why have an enquiry anyway? The UK is in big debt, yes? so the Govt should take the massive income the PL generates and just leave the game alone please.

  • Comment number 21.

    I just don't believe this will seriously modify behaviour unless totally unacceptable refeering standards are targeted as well. It defies human nature that , when the stakes are so high, and the referee misses the ball going over the line or a penalty decision or ignores de Jong type dangerous play that testosterone charged young men will just shrug and get on with the game.

  • Comment number 22.

    Referees are human and make mistakes. I don't see managers questioning the integrity of their highly paid players when they give the ball away or score an own goal. Should we question the managers integrity when he fields a weakened side for match, or just plainly gets his tactics wrong?
    As other posters note, the differences between the treatment of rugby and football officials is startling.
    The FA needs to implement the televised review system, and include the reversal, extra 10 yard option for the referee in case of dissent or abuse.

  • Comment number 23.

    They keep saying that managers and players ar only employees of the clubs,Well let the punishment fit the crime..No more fines because that does not hurt,it has to be Points Deductions,3 points for the first offence,6 for the second and Relegation for the susequent ones.
    If we are to get back to the standards of yesteryear then the whole concept of the game has to be looked at and if a game has to be called off because 4 or 5 players have been sent off from each side and there respective teams have a 3 point deduction,then the swearing and abuse the players give the referee will be cut out over night,after all Football has gone from being a sport to big business where its dog eat dog but when theres no dog to eat what then.

  • Comment number 24.

    Ligeti_Grieg I totally agree with you. The crass ignorance of managers/players/fans defies belief. Referees are People. People make mistakes. Get over it. Keepers miss crosses, defenders miss tackles, midfielders make rubbish passes, strikers miss open goals... managers make rubbish selection/tactics decisions. Everyone make mistakes.
    Of course its annoying when referees do it - but its no worse than those sorts of mistakes listed above. The only difference is that the managers/pundits/(some fans?) like to have someone else to blame. Oh, and the 17 different viewpoint , ultra-slow, cgi-assisted replays trying to show if it was/wasn't offside is just ridiculous. The referee makes a decision from his viewpoint at that instant. Let's try sticking camera on the referees head and just watch the whole game (or at least the replays) through that.... it will at least stop all the stupid was it /wasn't it analysis by the pundits...
    Oh and yes, please bring in the sin-bin., although I would have it for second-yellows (but not straight reds).

  • Comment number 25.

    As many have said Football needs to take a good long look at Rugby for an example of how refereeing should be done. I like the idea of a sin bin, it might actually get players thinking about their actions and back chat. At the same time it is a two way street. The refs need to have a voice too and I think that putting mics on the refs so you can hear what they're saying to players would go some way towards helping us understand their decisions and also might make players think twice about what they're saying to the ref.

    The easiest thing they can do though from the get go is make it a rule that ONLY the captains of the team can approach the ref to question a decision. All this runnign after the ref and harrassing them is the most annoying thing I see in matches these days.

  • Comment number 26.

    There have been some comments here around why SAF isn't entitled to say exactly what he thinks about a referee. When it's said so publicly, that referee can effectively get tarred - by other managers, supporters, and can undermine every decision they make from then on as the players may also stop respecting them.
    And it's just his SAF's opinion, and as we all know from post-match interviews, the managers, still hyped-up after the match, have very bias opinions: how often do the 2 managers agree about the decision? Generally one of them is adamant and the other couldn't see it because it was "too far away".
    FIFA don't help referees one iota: usually the "terrible" decision needs to be viewed in slow motion by the TV pundits before they're clear. Referees do not have this option, and it is basically impossible for anyone to get every decision right when seeing it once in real time.
    So while FIFA refuse to rectify this, the referee is all we've got.
    Personally, I often think that the yellow and red card system is insufficient: referees are happy to dish out a yellow card but will not issue a second yellow for a similar offence as it means that the player is sent off, changes the game, and bans the player for subsequent matches. Could the rugby version where a player leaves the game for 10 minutes or so not be implemented? I think that this an immediate but not long-lasting punishment more fitting when players have argued or abused officials.

  • Comment number 27.

    As has already been said ... how well did the "respect" campaign last ?

    There is only one way it can work, and that is "zero tolerance" meaning just that. It may ruin a few games, but if EVERY referee (there must be consistency) red carded every player that surrounded him after a decision, or any player waving imaginary cards (Cesc, are you reading this?) it would soon stop.

    You can not force managers to face the press immediately after a game ad expect them to bite their tngue when a referee has been really poor, but there is a difference between critiscising his performance and stating that he was biased.

    The same goes for the players. Certain Liverpool and Arsenal players, for example, should have faced long bans for being twits with their tweets after matches. Their behaviour was far worse than anything any of the managers have said, in my opinion.

    If managers, and players, are expected to answer the press immediately after a game, while emotions are running high, then surely referees should be subject to the same scrutiny?

    It can only work if, as I said, "zero tolerance" means just that. If that were to happen, what would the repercusions be? I see a segment of the supporters (from all clubs) who would react with threats and worse.

    Is the next season the one which sees football in England reduced to the chaos that we have see in Scotland this season?

  • Comment number 28.

    Under the current rules a player gets 2 yellow cards and he's off.In a tournament a player gets 3 yellow cards and he is suspended.A team can get 11 yellow cards and finish with 11 men! Rejig the rules so that on the third yellow,the coach who obviously condones his players, as to take one of the 3 off. It would help clean up at least the petty fouls and arguing and also provide great entertainment.Also make every free kick direct

  • Comment number 29.

    If the FA ar serious there will have to be games where several players get sent off and get long suspensions. This will have to include prima donnas who think they are bigger than the rules. All the evidence suggests that the FA are scared to lose money short-term by doing that.
    The five match suspension of Ferguson was long overdue and is a small step in the right direction. He has been snubbing his contractual obligations by not speaking on BBC for years as well as making many unedifying comments elsewhere.
    Anybody in authority knows that you have got to uphold the rules consistently. FIFA have not done that (see the World Cup Final) and nor have the the FA and Premiership (every week). When you have let it go this far it is hard to get it back. There will be a lot of moaners (see Ferguson) and noise from the press. Somebody must grasp the nettle though, otherwise you will get more and more chaos and serious injuries.

  • Comment number 30.

    Whoa the air's getting kind of thick and murky in here what with this mother of a smokescreen being generated by the camp fire and flapping blankets of Sir Dave Richards and Richard Scudamore over there at the Palace of Westminster. I'm going out on a limb here but - sorry, just a minute while I wipe my stinging eyes - I'm just guessing that they're trying to create an impenetrable barrier of trite "let's dust off this old chestnut again" irrelevance that will stand up against the Select Committee's targeted interrogation for the 60 minutes they must endure before the Football Conference guys turn up to give their own evidence.

    The last thing that Sir Dave and Richard want to get drawn into is a discussion about how the very organization that they are responsible for running SHOULDN'T EVEN EXIST. If the FA had possessed the semblance of a backbone in 1992 they would have prevented the breakaway of the old First Division and we wouldn't all be trying to figure out how to wrest control of our game away from brilliant businessmen, asset strippers, and billionaire playboys. I have nothing against Richard Scudamore. He's brilliant. But he should be the Chief Executive of a Fortune 100 corporation, NOT DIVISION ONE.

    The remainder of my missive is directed at the committee members who will take evidence on April 15th. Do me a favor, gentlemen. Please consider balancing one hellaciously enormous bucket of water on top of the door as Messrs. Richards and Scudamore walk into Committee Room 15. Douse their smokescreen just as Sir Dave is preparing to give the "on my count, dance like a freaking dervish and talk RAISE THE BAR" and lay their painfully apparent battleplan bare. Then explode the shells of just questioning about their feet: Will you support an independent FA board with ultimate policy setting and decision-making authority? How will you give clubs back to supporters? How will you help stop Football League clubs going out of business? How will you help England win another World Cup?

    Look guys. I can see AND SMELL the billowing clouds of diversion from where I'm sitting and I'm in California. But even though I'm an expat I care just as much about the desecration of our game as any of my family and friends who never left Watford. Don't allow the smoke and mirrors of dusted off initiatives to divert you from your singular objective. Gather the evidence needed to formulate our plan. Our plan for taking back our game.

  • Comment number 31.

    There needs to be a zero tolerance policy towards backchat/arguing from players. If you argue, you're off, simple as. In the early days of this policy we'll see half a team getting sent off, but they'll soon get the message....

  • Comment number 32.

    Of course I meant April 5th in my post (#30) not April 15th

  • Comment number 33.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 34.

    If there's one thing that has put me off watching top-level football the last few years it has been the nauseating spectacle of the referee (the man in charge, I believe) blowing his whistle for a free-kick or penalty and then running away from the players, backwards. (I keep imagining a police officer adopting the same strategy). It bespeaks cowardice and is a clear invitation to the players to act out the same old pantomime as they crowd in on him, eyes bulging, arms raised, spittle flying. It's a penalty. Oh no it isn't. Oh yes it is.

    Advice to referees. Stand your ground. Draw a line in the sand. Let players approach you spitting venom and hurling abuse if they choose to do so. That's their decision. Just book them, one by one. Then get out the red cards.

  • Comment number 35.

    "It is against this backdrop that the 20 Premier League clubs have decided to draw a line in the sand."

    So many lines have already been drawn in this sand that the whole beach needs to be replaced before it's even possible to draw another one!

    The Association Football rule-book needs re-writing, and I agree with many above that the Rugby Football Union version would serve as a very good template to start from.

  • Comment number 36.

    the one thing Peter Scudamore has not mentioned is the cause for all aggravation and that is the poor standard of refereeing. This season has seen some of the worst refereeing decisions for a long time and that is what is causing players, managers and fans alike to tell the ref what they really think of them. You cannot gain respect by being bad.
    Now would be a good time give the assistant referees full refereeing powers so they can give real assistance to the referee and embrace technology, that would at least give the referee the benefit of the doubt and stop players challenging every decision or non decision.

  • Comment number 37.

    As a fan of a 'smaller' club I do think SAF is trying to have his cake and eat it - he already gets a huge advantage pretty much every time he plays one of 'us'.

    Seriously, referees need to be protected - but they need to be accountable too, and to be SEEN to be accountable. If they're assessed behind closed doors that does nothing to deal with the anger, the sense of injustice, the sense that things aren't 'fair'. And, just for once, we at the 'smaller' clubs would like an admission that things aren't working out in terms of fairness - not because refs are deliberately biased, but because they're influenced by the crowd, the occasion, the familiarity with the players, perhaps even the fear of retribution from managers like SAF. We all know it's true - we even have a chant at Molineux 'If that was us, you'd have sent him off'...

  • Comment number 38.

    The proof will be in the pudding, I'll believe it when I see certain people from a certain seemingly untouchable (at least until recently) club get punished for their behavior.

  • Comment number 39.

    @ post number 3:

    "Ferguson is the best example of a manager that speaks his mind and risks the consequences, but it must be questioned why he is punished so harshly."

    erm, you seem to have missed a crucial element about Ferguson's rants - he's questioning their ability and integrity. there's a massive difference between saying a ref got a decision wrong (which happens) and questioning his integrity

    also, saying it on television just winds the media and public up, who jump on the bandwagon and suddenly everyone is criticising the ref which creates an almost impossible environment for them to work in. not to mention the idiotic crowd who, if a decision is made that they dont like, start to chant in their collective thousands a rude phrase which i dont need to repeat

    Ferguson should make his point through the proper channels behind closed doors if he feels a ref hasnt performed well enough, not shout it out as his usual and predictable excuse for a defeat in front of the cameras

    He is a joke when it comes to respecting refs, and i would have given him (and any other manager who behaves like him) a 10 match STADIUM ban, not a pathetic touchline ban which clearly doesnt work on him. and i would make the fine half a million quid, not an amount of money they earn in a couple of hours

  • Comment number 40.

    What annoys me about this (its only the respect campaign rehashed) is that Fergie moans about not getting a fair referee at Chesea,Martin Atkinson.Yet he was laughing and joking with him when he got 7 minutes in the Manchester derby.Then look at Steve Bruce saying hes angry about it not being a penalty against Liverpool yet i dont remember him being angry with the beach ball goal.These are only examples all manages are the same they see incidents against them yet not when it goes in there favour as do fans.If Fifa dont want to bring technology in like rugby then the Referees Decision Should Be Final.

  • Comment number 41.

    While I agree with the sentiment of players giving refs more respect, this whole thing has been said before and always has no teeth behind it. The likes of Ryan Giggs and Jack Wilshire need to be at the front of this, no the suits.

  • Comment number 42.

    I've never really understood why this situations with referees has persisted for so long.
    Two actions to take immediately :-
    1) Only the captain of each team should be allowed to speak to the referee, and then only to clarify a decision.
    2) Any attempt to get an opposition player booked or sent-off, either verbally or action, is a straight red card offense.

  • Comment number 43.

    "By announcing the intention to get tough with miscreants of the pitch and the dugout, Scudamore is hoping to take the sting out of any difficult questions about overpaid players being poorly disciplined and regulated."

    If this subterfuge was so blatantly obvious, then why did the "interviewer" in the video clip not have the bottle to confront Scudamore on this very point.

    It's not just football referees who back-pedal when faced by the on-rushing aggressor, it seems that BBC journalists are just as likely to do so.

    Shame on you, Mr Bond - I wouldn't dream of questioning your overall integrity or your fitness for the position, but I do believe you have failed to make a correct call there!

  • Comment number 44.

    This respect should work both ways. Isn't it time that referees should be made to answer questions after the game regarding their decisions. The dissent issue isn't helped by the failure of referees to do that!

  • Comment number 45.

    Maybe if we had good referees that were consistent it wouldn't be such a big problem. But if the same tackles are getting different reactions from refs then they should be questioned and expected to explain their decisions. Managers and players get bans or fines because the ref is up to the job and they're expected not to react.

  • Comment number 46.

    It'll never happen. These prima donna wendyballers are far too precious!!! Or at least that's what they would have you believe! Take the same stance as rugby - any foul language towards a match official and it should be a straight red and a ban for 8 - 12 weeks, in some cases longer. As I say, it will never happen because the FA have not got the guts to see it through!

  • Comment number 47.

    The Premier League bears much responsibility for the pathetic state of football. It has, for years, allowed indiscipline and gross disrespect to flourish. Too often snarling, abusive players attempt to intimidate referees. The introduction of a sin bin for a yellow would rapidly solve the problem. In no way should a ref, be he right orwrong in a decision be forced to retreat as a swarm of players approach. Ferguson may not be everyone's cup of tea but he has a point sometimes. There are many players who require discipline.

    Football has degenerated in many ways that so many of us have been turned off watching it: it is a joke. As several people have said, watch a good game of rugby union.

    Snarling, abusive dissent not to mention blatant cheating diminishes the game.

    Sin bins at least for a trial period ... give it a go ... should have been a clamp down years ago!

  • Comment number 48.

    The trouble is that refs do get it wrong. If technology is not allowed to be part of the process during the game there is not much that can be done other than to campaign against the 'one size fits all' view of technology.

    But technology can be introduced in two ways. If a club wants to play at a certain level, part of its running costs will have to be to provide the technology. The rules of football must be universal, but the means of checking up on them can be can vary depending on the level of competition. FIFA should ensure that every country entering the World Cup has at least one stadium up to these standards and provide funds for those who cannot afford it.

    The second way technology can be used is to train the refs. I do not know how much this is done. What I would expect is that the match officials are followed by cameras; at the end of the match footage is made available to them and they can assess their performance and review the errors of judgement they made. The emphasis being not on whether they got it wrong, but why they got it wrong and how they could avoid similar mistakes. Their views would be passed on (with further action taken) for review by the Refs Association. The refs Association would check for bias by one or more refs towards a particular club or player. At the moment refs expect respect because of their status. Unfortunately the view that status = respect is no longer part of our society. The refs have to earn rspect and evidence that they are being more self critical would certainly help.

    One rule I would like to change is when a less talented player is tricked by a more skillful player into fouling them. It is a difficult and rather subjective area, but I think it is just as bad as diving.

  • Comment number 49.

    it should start with the managers too many single out one occasion when the ref's decision was wrong. is this game not over 90 min's and they have more than that one chance to win the game.

    then journalist's need to back off with the question's too many times the manager starts by telling us how his team played then the next question is "but what about the penalty decision" put rules in place where to stop this.

    if you practice what you preach players will follow. and they need to grow up too.

  • Comment number 50.

    It is all about integrity, isn't it?
    As a fan, and a former player of both sports, I find that the Rugby referees appear to have a much more positive relationship with the players, and that there is obvious respect for one another.
    I think that when soccer starts to use some forms technology, so that obvious miscarriages of justice can be eliminated, that would be a start ( remember that World Cup goal?). Follow that with the use of 'open' microphones where what the referee has to say can be heard by one and all, then much of the hassling might go too.
    Finally, if soccer was to take the 'citing' rules used in Rugby, so that malicious play, not dealt with on the pitch, can be reviewed at a later date, I think that might also eliminate some of the injustice that really riles the players.
    As for that old hobby-horse that this would break up play, forget it! If you watch any sport where big decisions can be made through referral, it is obvious how quickly it can be done, and how the spectators love it!
    Fair play and justice would make for a more positive attitude between players and referees, wouldn't it?
    If in doubt, watch the World Cup Cricket, where the use of technology and referrals have truly enhanced the game.

  • Comment number 51.

    "Scudamore acknowledges the point, saying it may not be deteriorating, but it certainly isn't getting any better.

    What has changed, he suggests, is the public's capacity to accept bad behaviour from players. At a time of great economic uncertainty for many supporters, the spectacle of multi-millionaire players and managers behaving so appallingly sticks in the craw. He says they have a greater responsibility to behave."

    When the heads of football in the Premiership cannot see or don't want to see what has changed in football is one of the reasons they 're called dinosaurs and the rest.

    No, it isn't the public'c capacity to accept players' behaviour that has changed Mr Scudamore. Football has changed but the change is relating to:
    a) the speed with which the game is played nowadays;
    b) 3 substitutes are allowed now, resulting in the game being even faster;
    c) money has changed but not in relation to what players earn - there is so much money for the clubs that refereeing wrongdoings have a huge backlash in clubs' fortunes.

    Have the football authorities reacted to these changes?
    Yes, they have: they introduced a fourth and fifth official behind the goal posts, in order to see critical moments when wrongdoing occurs. But do they have any meaningful contribution or are they two strangers wearing the referee costume, during the game? After watching so many games, I can come only to the conclusion that their contribution is zero.

    Have refereeing wrong decisions increased?
    It is not a brainer that as the game becomes faster, no matter how good the intentions are, more mistakes will be made.
    Have the football authorities done anything on this, to protect both football games from bad refereeing and give referees the help required to be better in their job?

    Are there solutions that apply in other sports?
    Yes, there are:
    a) instead of having two more referees behind the posts, hiding the view from few unfortunate fans who are seated behind them, they could introduce one official with a monitor, following the game and watching replays - communication with the referee would enable correct decisions to be taken in key moments;
    b) goal line technology could be introduced;

    What is the authorities' response to that?
    They say it's against tradition.
    Could the be further away from reality?
    They couldn't.

    And last but not least, talking about multi-millionaire players is as laughable as the next joke arround. Murdoch is earning billions every season out of football. When the sport generates so much profit, it's only logical that the ones who create it have every right to earn more. It happens to every industry. Why should the Premier League be swimming in cash pools and the few players creating all this money earn little?

  • Comment number 52.

    As far as the actions of players goes with regards to referees I believe there is a need to take strong action. However, about managers making comments about referees lets face it the standard has been abismal in instances this season. If the FA wants to stop this try raising the standard of refereeing.

  • Comment number 53.

    Why not tomorrow? If the past is anything to go by nothing will happen.

  • Comment number 54.

    Everybody seems to be blaming the referee all the time,HE IS NOT THE ONE COMING ON TELEVISION AND MAKING ALL THE DISPARAGING REMARKS,lets get it right.
    I have said it before POINTS Deductoin is the only answer.

  • Comment number 55.

    Sure the players and managers need to show some respect to referees but referees must also be held accountable for their actions.

    All these players and managers are on sky high wages and with that goes alot of pressure from fans/the board to perform and if a referee cant have the decency to make honest decisions or have the decency to come out and hold their hand up and say they were wrong then where is the fairness in all of this?

    Seems like referees are allowed to get away with alot worse than even a footballer or referee...I accept referees are only human and can make a mistake but for even the most die hard fan of an opposition team can see when their own player was "lucky" to stay on the pitch, yet referees overlook the situation (examples, Luiz and Carragher, Rooney).

    Players and managers also deserve the respect in terms of a referee coming out and telling the public why they made/didnt make a decision. At least this way a player/manager would see the perspective a referee took.

    Furthermore, I would love to see the same approach as rugby in football whereby the referees are miked and the viewer can see AND hear what is being said (OK in some cases a player can be overboard - i.e. Rooney/Terry) but when the player knows he's on mic he's more than likely to watch what he says. This way both the ref and player will be infront of everyone in terms of what's being said. The ref could also mute what's being said if it's not possible to speak "on air".

  • Comment number 56.

    Can we have a crack down on incompetant decisions that are tantamount to cheating and some transparancy into the appointment of officials to fixtures please FA?

  • Comment number 57.

    i can't be bothered to watch football and haven't for years. these players surrounding the referee and jostling and intimidating them are a disgrace. its very simple to sort out. the league need to back the referees up, forget about the managers. yellow or red card for any dissent, swearing, intimidation. no messing about.

    as soon as fergusons team, or any other of these apologists giving lip service to stopping bad behaviour, finish games with 8 players (would usually mean losing the game, and more importantly these days profit) the penny would drop and immediately the managers would stop the bad behaviour and the problem would be solved. if these hooligans carried on getting sent-off the clubs would sell them on and they might not be able to afford another new porsche - that would make them think. also watch a game of rugby or rugby league. people who want to dismiss rugby union players as posh public schoolboys watch rugby league - the hardest sport in the world, not played by the upper classes, but refereed without any arguing.

    also marching the position of free kick ten metres towards the offending players own goal every time he gets abusive would soon get the managers sorting the players out.

    words won't work, loss of players on the pitch and the knock-on effect of lost games, points, trophies, tournaments, player suspensions, lost revenue would sort it out within a month. simple!!

  • Comment number 58.

    It would be a start if we realise that zero tolerance maybe the only option.

    More bookings in 2011/12 might be the price fans & teams have to pay for players insolence and ignorance.

    The idea of mikes for referees & linesmen has huge merits on transparency...

    BUT money talks in the PL

  • Comment number 59.

    At the end of the day dock points from teams who's players and managers criticise the referee. In order to win the league you have to get the most points but you also have to respect the game. Fines or touchline bans which allow managers to speak to the players at half time and send messages via phones are just pointless.

    As for the refereeing standards we have some of the weakest referees in this country who don't apply the rules for fear of "ruining the spectacle". This encourages players to try their luck and try to intimidate him. The rules clearly say foul or abusive language is a red card offence yet when was the last time you saw Rooney or Terry sent off for this? Now ask when was the last time you saw them swear at the referee. Refereees like managers make mistakes and what the review system in all sports has shown us is actually the referees get most of the decisions right and it's the players who get them wrong.

  • Comment number 60.

    The issue with Fergie is that he knows the rules and still pushes the boundaries, to basically say 'we could have done with a fair referee, oh, I mean a strong referee' was an implication of bias and dishonesty dressed up as fair comment. That should be discouraged.

    In terms of match day behaviour of players, we should balance this out. Referees should state in their match reports the reasons for their decisions, and should be encouraged to issue statements about contentious incidents (as some have done already). Then, as in Rugby, the Captain of each team should be the only player allowed to approach the referee about decisions, and then only in a respectful way (i.e. not shouting into his face!)

  • Comment number 61.

    Surely the model of refereeing used in the Aviva Premiership (as one example) is perfectly applicable to top-level English football too. For years Rugby Union has employed a method of transparency that balances accountability between players and officials. For example, refs use a microphone, allowing them to explain decisions immediately after they have been made - so both the audience and players know why a penalty/card has been given. Similarly, only captains are allowed to approach the ref, giving their role more significance and helping to eliminate the type of primal circling behaviour seen in football today. Why not take these ideas on board oh wise F.A.?

  • Comment number 62.

    And so, having slowly eroded referees' discretion to the point of distraction, the Premier League now want to bring back respect! They should have settled with the then and now rules of the game which state, quite clearly, the referee's decision is final, before, during and after a game. And where were the Premier League in dishing out hurtful fines to clubs who failed to respect the officials?

    Mistakes, who doesn't make them?

  • Comment number 63.

    The first major improvement is for the BBC to stop its practice of provoking players and managers in the required post match interviews.

    TV & Radio interviewers need to be fined, banned, and sanctioned more than managers do. Just about every single time the first thing they ask is "What about decision xxx by the referee did that cost you the game?"
    You do it because it creates news and gets you paid - you just dont care how damage it causes.

    It is utterly ridiculous you can blog about this problem and not recognise your own role in it.

  • Comment number 64.

    I don't see the problem myself:

    (i) Introduce aids to help referee's make informed decisions (ie video technology).


    (ii) Cease all post match interviews with managers.

    Seeing the 'red mist' is an core ingredient of a competitive individual, which includes football players and managers.

    To expect people to be calm when yet another goal is disallowed owing to wrong decisions made by officials, and with with several million at stake is quite unreasonable in my view.

    The game is being brought into disrepute because of the obstinate fat cats running the football show, who expect people to behave as they can afford to do (in my opinion).

  • Comment number 65.

    I agree with #54,bluewanderer.

    It seems to have become the done thing to blame referees when a team loses.We now have them being undermined in programme notes,conspiracy theories about (eg) Chelsea have won all their home games when (I think,but happy to be corrected) Martin Atkinson has refereed at Stamford Bridge.Nothing to do with Chelsea having an excellent home record in general obviously.

    The media don't help either.Chris Kamara and Alan Green spring to mind as constantly moaning about the referee.They get tv pictures slowed down,different angles,super slow mo etc.

    A fine and a touchline ban are rather pointless when you can watch the game in the stands and then go and give a half time team talk.An official warning for first offence,then a points deduction would be my suggestion.

  • Comment number 66.

    Hey guys...its April the first!!
    This whole issue might just be a joke!! (sic)

  • Comment number 67.

    Football, as it has been said countless times in the past, could learn from both codes of rugby. Introduce sin-bins, move free kick forward ten yards in the event of any dissent (if the ten yards moves into the penalty area it becomes a penalty), be able to reverse decisions, retrospectively punish players for bad tackles (citing). Above all introduce meaningful penalties for serious infrigements. Fines and touch-line bans do not hit player or manager hard enough. Points deduction would penalise the club who then would surely take action. Can you imagine any managers to missing out on Europe due to a player abusing the referee.

  • Comment number 68.

    football, and the british FA especially, are so far behind the times it is scary.

    everyone cites rugby as a model, and i agree - if the FA could take one specific thing from rugby, it would be handing out retrospective punishments for some of the stupid behaviour we see by footballers. i would take it even further, and say that if you are disciplined retrospectively, then the sentence should be doubled or even tripled, with no appeal.

    the underlying problem with football, is that there are so many stupid oiks playing it that lack self discipline. crack down on them, get rid of them, we don't want them, we are not impressed by their stupid behaviour, on, or off the pitch.

  • Comment number 69.

    I can't believe the 'footballers miss open goals, goalkeepers drop balls' arguement, its referees we are talking about - players do take criticism but referees are protected against it. You can't get stopped by the police for speeding and say 'but the car in front of me was going faster' the same applies, you can't compare what the player does when its the referee thats in question.

    We can't have onfield chasing of the referee, all decisions should be accepted, but after the game decisions should be challenged, or explanations should be given.

    How for example did the officials not see the foul and handball that led to Bowyers 'goal' for Birmingham - a decision that could have huge repercussions for both clubs should Utd loose the league by a point, and Birmingham survive relegation by a point. Decisions do not 'even themselves out over the season' - they only could if each match was of the same value every week - if Arsenal don't get a penalty against Utd when they are 1-0 down with two minutes to go, but do get a debateable penalty against Everton when they are winning 2-0 that isn't 'making it equal'

    Mr Atkinson should be asked to explain why he

    1. Didn't give a penalty against Terry when he had clear line of sight, the ball travelled 10 yards and Terry leaned into a goalbound shot and stopped it with his arm
    2. Did not book Luiz for the Hernandez foul, and even if he didn't consider that a booking did not book Luiz for the Rooney foul, and even if he felt neither warranted a booking the combination of the two surely did.
    3. Was very quick to give the home team a highly contensious penalty

    No - SAF was right to question the referee, whether by accident or design he favoured the home team with all the big decisions.

    Respect can not be demanded, it has to be earned, the players can be enforced on the pitch like in Rugby, but that does not mean the respect the referee, it means the sanctions for not obeying are such that they do obey on the pitch - that is different than respect.

    Also for those saying 'points deduction' do you not realise this would be taken to court straightaway? - the reason they don't do points deductions is that in very few cases would they actually win. SAF would go to court and demonstrate that Atkinson did not behave in a 'fair and equitable manner' and would in all probablility win his court case - he would be presenting the match decisions based on the rules - and Atkinson did not follow the rules. Remember the court would base their judgement on facts, not if one person is a referee and usually protected and the other is a Manager.

  • Comment number 70.

    Many posters have drawn comparisons to rugby where discipline is taken as read.

    There are some signficant differences in the dynamics invlolved in refereeing:

    1 Players bend the rules in rugby and at times cheat but when caught they generally accept the punishment footballers just blame the referee when they get caught

    2 Rugby like other sports has embraced technology in order to assist the referee. The argument by FIFA et al that technology will undermine the referee's authority is without foundation. There may be different issues to consider in adapting technology to football but surely not beyond the wit of those in power

    3 Aside from a few, most football referees do not appear to have the character to stand up to the players. Witness how a referee always moves away to the side of the box when giving a penalty or backs off when confronted. By contrast a rugby (league or union) will simply and clearly give his decision

    4 Communication between players and the referee in Rugby is much clearer. The referee gives signals why a decision is made and who the offender was, this is rarely done in football

    I doubt this initiative will be effective as it would require a significant change in player's attitudes which will only be brought about by a stricter refereeing regime - I just can't see the premier league taking the risk that games become 9 a side as more cards are shown

  • Comment number 71.

    Once again the Football chiefs want to curb the unacceptable outbursts from managers and players towards referees. Whilst in principle it is worth spending time discussing possible ways forward with the clubs, the outcome (whatever it may be) has to work both ways.
    If a manager is banned from the touchline for 2,3 or 5 matches, so be it, but where there is evidence (and nowadays there is lots of video evidence) available, it also needs to be used to give foorball the same rights when looking at rhe performance of our referees.
    Surely it is only fair that a poor refereeing performance in high profile matches should have the same sanctions as managers and players?
    I have yet to come across a situation where one of our 'top' referees has had a bad game and as a result misses only one premiership game.
    Surely an equivalent ban for poor refereeing at the top level is only fair if a manager is subject to such penalties?
    The down side of course, is that if a referee was given an extended ban, it could reduce the number of referees available for top level games, and of course, the Championship teams would be unhappy - after all, they would likely get the poor performance referee for some weeks!

  • Comment number 72.

    The opportunity to crack down on this was badly missed some years ago. an announcement like this was made pre-season dissent would not be tolerated within 5 minutes of the Charity Shield starting the Manchester United captain Ron Keane was 4 inches from the referee's face screaming at him over a decision, one straight red card there and then would have easily set the tone and the circumstances would have sent a clear message to all players if Manchester United's Captain can be sent off in that match for dissent then anybody else will be smarty dispatched to the changing room. Unfortunately the referee lacked the courage to do so, he failed even to caution Keane and all the players immediately knew it was business as usual

  • Comment number 73.

    Firstly referees can help themselves by talking more to players and explaining their decisions and also maybe smile. Giving the captain the right to politely ask the referee to explain his decision is a good idea. When playing Sunday league the best referees I came across were the ones who could joke with the players and / or set the limits before the game of acceptable behaviour.

    Secondly the current crop of players are broken. You can make the rules stricter, more red cards, longer bans etc but I don't think it will work as I think that they think they are untouchable. The fact is that while they think if they play well on the pitch they can behave how they like either abusing the referee or cheating on their wives. Two extremely different examples but same problem, the players think they can get away with it and don't expect any consequences. Taking an air rifle to the work place and shooting someone?. In most workplaces that is a sackable offence but obviously not in football.

    The solution is to get the clubs to teach the youth players in their academies acceptable levels of behaviour on and off the pitch (respect to referees, teachers etc) and to get the parents to follow the same guidelines or their son doesn't play. The clubs ultimately are the ones who have to change the culture where the players think they are untouchable.

  • Comment number 74.

    I agree with the first comment; this sounds like the respect the referee campaign brought in 2/3 years ago.'ll get all of the players and managers to sign an agreement, but at the tight end of the season, it's all forgotten!

    I in no way condone any of the actions of any players or managers who feel the need to argue their case by surrounding the referee at a bad decision, or waving their hand to get another player carded (Fabregas et al!). I believe this all to be bad sportsmanship, and to some extent, cheating. However, I can understand this when the referees are constantly getting so many decisions wrong. There seems to be no punishment/repercussions for referees who are in charge of these big games, but can't seem to get the decisions right. The thing is, it's not just the odd one, it seems to be in every premier league match now. It always seems that one of the main talking points is the incorrectly judged incident, as opposed to the actual game.

    The league need to be tougher on bad referees. The respect campaign will only work if it players play fair, and referees get crucial decision right. It has to work both ways, otherwise there's no point bringing it in, otherwise players will get more and more frustrated.

    One thing that would definitely sort out bad decisions and player protests would be video and goal line technology. I think it's clearly obvious that it's time to get it sorted. It works in every other sport, and doesn't slow the sport down. When it's brought in, then I believe the game will change for the good of the sport, and you'll definitely see more respect from both sides as both players and referees wont be able to get away with so much anymore!

  • Comment number 75.

    . At 06:28am on 1st Apr 2011, jonahmona wrote:

    The UK is in big debt, yes?


    Actually, historically and relatively, no.

  • Comment number 76.

    I think football should be looking at rugby union to see discipline from the players and also strong referees. There is never crowding around the referee, the players have respect for the decisions regardless of correct or not. There is also never any crowd trouble despite the fact that drinking is allowed.

    Shows the difference in mentality in another professional sport.

  • Comment number 77.

    Look at Atkinson's performances when refereeing games featuring Chelsea. Examine the decisions made and you'll maybe see Fergie had a point. Chelsea have never lost when he's the ref, and games featuring big clubs such as Liverpool or Man Utd all contain very poor decisions that have turned the game in Chelsea's favour. Not for one moment saying he's corrupt, but even his own mother would have a hard time saying he's fair when he's reffing a Chelsea game. Judge him on the evidence, and maybe then he'll be prevented from reffing in the PL - he's simply not good enough. Respect cuts both ways, and it generally should be earned.

  • Comment number 78.

    let referee uriah rennie referee every game. you never see these little prima donnas jostle him. he stands his ground, with the physique and demeanor of a heavyweight boxer, and they suddenly lose the urge to jostle, swear etc.

    can only second what people have said here. this behaviour will only stop when it has a financial impact on clubs because they are losing games due to players being sent off, or free kicks going back towards their goal by ten metres for every subsequent bit of bad behaviour. i played rugby from being 8yrs old (not in public school by the way, in redcar) and even then if you argued with the ref it cost you metres and the coach gave serious rollocking.

    now if an eight yr old kid can get the message surely even the most unintelligent/spoilt/over-indulged footballer would catch on.

    oh and lets forget the fines. taking ten grand off rooney is like me giving the price of a bag of crisps. or at least designate a charity at the start of every season and give all the fine money to them.

    i think like naughty kids who get disciplined the players/fans would actually enjoy the game more and the public might reconnect with our national sport, rather than be alienated by it,


  • Comment number 79.

    "But haven't we heard this all before?"

    Yes, we have!

    David, I'll believe it's a 'new zero tolerance approach' when referees start applying the laws of the game. As the World Cup Final showed last July, administrators have a word in the ear of officials, and I haven't seen anything to make me think anything different happens in English football. Administrators don't need to 'have a word in the ear'; the referees have the rule book. Referees shouldn't allow them selves to be surrounded and intimidated. The yellow card should be out as soon as a player/players confront/s him. Rio Ferdinand sarcastically said you can't even speak to the referees 'these days'. Why does he need to speak to the referee, if only to influence him? In the last Olympics, a Japanese baseball player showed his disbelief at being called Strike 3, and was immediately expelled from the game, and everyone understood that was the punishment. And it doesn't matter if it's the England captain, or Joe Bloggs in the local park, if the rule is universal, and applied consistently, then there can be no questioning of it. But that's the problem, consistency. For example, a few months ago, I think it was against Arsenal at Old Trafford, an Arsenal player was ordered to go away by the referee as he consulted with the linesman, but then Rio Ferdinand arrived and was allowed to listen in on, even contribute to the the officials' discussion.

    And it's quite simple, if more correct decisons are made, then it will be easier to cut out the misbehaviour, and the only way they can do this is by having a 4th referee in a tv box wired up to the ref, as in cricket and rugby, not the pitiful charade that is the 2 officials behind the goal.

  • Comment number 80.


    One thing that would definitely sort out bad decisions and player protests would be video and goal line technology. I think it's clearly obvious that it's time to get it sorted. It works in every other sport, and doesn't slow the sport down. When it's brought in, then I believe the game will change for the good of the sport, and you'll definitely see more respect from both sides as both players and referees wont be able to get away with so much anymore!

    Old debate but very pertinant - difficult for judgement decisions but look at Rugby - its often referred to the box just to check all was ok - I go back to the Birmingham 'goal' V Utd - players say handball - the ref missed it but has the option to go to the box and ask - ten seconds later it comes back yes def handball free kick Utd. Correct decision reached all is well, all that happens is the ref would get plaudits for taking it to the box.

    If its referred and its not obvious then like in cricket the 'on field call' stands

    Can't use it on decisions like the Chelsea penalty - some say yes some say no but for clear cut was it wasn't it decisions it should be used

  • Comment number 81.

    Long overdue but this needs to be adressed on a world-wide basis.
    Clubs must be held accountable for player and manager misbehaviour and must make it clear such behaviour is unacceptable. If not the clubs must be punished instead of the player or manager or at least as well as.. That will make the owners act differently. The following MUST be addressed and quickly:
    1. Players faking injury and grossly over reacting and trying to get opponents booked or sent off.
    2. Foul and abusive lanquage and spitting. I have never seen so much spitting albeit not at players. It is grotesque and uneccesary.
    3. The constant challenging of referees decisons
    4. Players must show a much higher level of discipline. If rugby palyers can do it there is no reason why footballers cannot.
    5. Goal line technology is a must. Technology works well in Rugby, Cricket and Tennis - why not football.
    6. There must be a much better process for clubs to question referees. That cannot continue to be contained within the referee community. It's the same as trade unions disciplining staff.

  • Comment number 82.

    All sounds a bit wishy washy to me, though I'll happily be proved wrong.

    We hear stories that referee's in European matches are stricter than in domestic football. So, why don't the referee's adopt a stricter approach domestically?

    After the Rooney incident, the Premier League said they could take any further action, FIFA said they could. What is the position?

    Perhaps the media could take a fairer line when it comes to reporting on football. For example, the media love to paint Drogba as a diver yet laud over Gerard when his antics are just as bad. It creates resentment and bad atmosphere's.

    Anyway, I look to see this zero tolerance early next season with a rash of yellow and red cards where necessary.

  • Comment number 83.

    A worldwide effort is required, but it needs to start at the top. The Premier League is the world's league. The stars of the Premier League are world stars. We need to set an example.

    Alex Fergusson behaves disgracefully towards match officials. His players follow his lead. One of the most famous teams in the world are a disgrace in the the way they act toward refs.

    That is not to excuse other top clubs, but Man U are better than this.
    I am not a Man U hater. I love the way they play football. I love their professionalism. I love the way they never stop trying until the whistle has gone.

    But they also must accept the repsonsibility that goes with being the leading club. They must set a good example. At the moment, they are doing the opposite.

  • Comment number 84.

    Club fans are frequently short eyed.
    "After the Rooney incident, the Premier League said they could take any further action, FIFA said they could. What is the position?"

    Just the following week, Carragher had a terrible terrilble tackle at Nani's knee. His thigh opened like meat opens on a butcher's table. Yet, the Rooney incident keeps being talked. Unbelievable!

  • Comment number 85.

    The question is will this "zero tolerance" policy apply to all clubs or just the 16 that aren't the usual big 4 (5 now with city suppose).
    When you look at the worst offenders for crowding the referee it's always the same teams - Man Utd, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Man City. What I don't want to see (but probably will) is other teams players getting brought to task until someone form one of those teams gets penalised by the referee for something. Then we will have huge discussion in the media, the manager will rant about the decision and the poor referee will be punished for applying the laws of the game. Look at the referee who got demoted for sending Terry off when he rugby tackled Robinho who had a run on goal.
    Until we stop players like Terry and Gerrard attempting to referee games then there will be no respect, refs are too scared of getting slated in the media. Would the ref of Sunderland vs Liverpool have gotten away with it if he had given Sunderland a penalty for a foul 5 yards outside the box? I don't think so!

  • Comment number 86.

    #84 Football_UK

    I use the Rooney example because it was the one that was discussed by the Premier League and FIFA.

    It is purely a example to show how their is a difference of opinion between governing bodies on the issue of video evidence.

  • Comment number 87.

    69 - Spot on.

    He was also right to question why Atkinson was given the fixture two year's running when he made several incorrect match (and as it turned out season) defining decisions in Chelsea's favour last season. People say it evens out but it doesn't unless at Old Trafford against Chelsea, United are given a nothing penalty, Chelsea get a player sent off for a soft second yellow and one of United's centre halves is allowed to do what we wants for 90 minutes. It's a double whammy otherwise, direct disadvantage for one team, direct advantage for their nearest rival.

    Surely you have a ref system where they are distrubuted evenly from game to game in which case the same ref should never do the same fixture 2 years running (or indeed ever if you consider there are 20 teams and a ref's career is shorter than that) or a system where some games are highlighted as high profile and demand a top ref (in which case why hasn't our World Cup Final ref ever reffed Chelsea v United at Stamford Bridge). Fergie is surely entitled to wonder why an appointment that yielded 4/5 incorrect decisions against his team one year is repeated.

    Atkinson was proven to be unfair - he gave every decision to one team two years in a row. That doesn't mean Fergie is saying he's doing it on purpose it just means for whatever reason his decision making fell to one side. In future he'd be better off highlighting the decisions to the FA in his press conference which would force them to evaluate them rather than handing out slaps on the wrist like an excitable headmaster of yesteryear.

  • Comment number 88.

    Why not have a similar arrangement to that used by cricket where an off-field official assesses incidents & behaviour after the match and dishes out fines, points & bans etc.

    The current panel system takes too long with appeals etc.

  • Comment number 89.

    Players do need to fix up their behavior and referees should learn to take valid criticism about their performances, otherwise no one will respect them. But can someone explain what this has to do with government, why are they threatening laws & regulation? Government should have nothing to do with football - they have much more important things to worry about, like running the country. All they will contribute is some beurocratic nonsense which will somehow make things worse.

  • Comment number 90.

    While I agree that something should be done about players and managers attitudes, I don't think it excuses awful standards of referees.

    People say "They are only human" correct, like managers and players... but unlike managers and players, poor performances don't cost them anything! Name one single line of work where you can get decisions wrong everyday and people will just say "ah well, you're only human". Referees only punishment for a REALLY bad performance (and it has to be obviously bad, otherwise the old "you're only human" excuse comes out) is a weekend in the championship... wow I bet that really hurts them.

    A manager gets his decisions wrong - guess what? He gets the sack. A player performs poorly, guess what? He gets sold or moved to a lower division club. A referee gets it wrong and they get??? An excuse, a free ride. The decisions they make can have major implications for clubs and managers, it could cost millions, it could cost someone else their job yet they face no consequences?

    How can you respect a man like Mike Dean? He is arrogant and full of himself, he tries to be at the centre of every game, he wants the focus on him. He consistently gets decisions wrong, he never explains anything and yet he gets rewarded with the league cup final??? The man has been a disaster all season! We can't seriously be saying he has been one of the best referees this year?

    The situation we have at present means that referees are untouchable and no punishment will ever come their way. As Tony Pulis has suggested, a system of relegation and promotion of referees would force them to up their game and do something about their poor performances. That would force refs like Mike Dean to stop thinking about their own fame and start thinking about their performances, because if they're not up to it, someone else will do it instead!

  • Comment number 91.

    @ 86 MrBlueBurns,

    Manchester United are hated in the UK more than banks and utilities corporations - that's a fact. When you have these two incidents though with only 7 days in between, it stinks.

    In the McCarthur incident, nobody said anything about McArthur leaning his body without a reason like a ...(put whatever you like), while no ball was played there. It was next to ridiculous. Yet, McArthur, besides his play acting, continued play as he wasn't really harmed. Ask Nani about his thigh and find a close up picture for a better viewing. Carragher stayed in the pitch, while Nani was out not only of the match but much longer. Worst of all is that the intention to hurt was there. Excuses about being a sliding foot are inexcusable, as he wouldn't cause this harm if he wanted to avoid it, by not applying you know what, you know where.

    Just, Nani is a foreign player, Rooney is a Manchester United player and this is an article about justice.

    No more needed to say, really.

  • Comment number 92.

    Why is it always 'respect' thats the topic of discussion? As if this is the most urgent area of the game that needs correcting?

    Agree with the majority that the officials should be held accountable, but as annoying as poor decisions/displays go, the referee's are only human and mistakes are always going to happen no matter how great the level of respect between players, managers and officials.

    What about the integrity of football? Is no-one else left utterly disgusted and ashamed after watching any premier league fixture involving any team with the amount cheating, conning, injury feigning 'footballers'. It goes on so much so that it's hardly a talking point anymore, you hear comentators themselves trying to excuse these frauds.....'well, ermmm, there may have been a slight nick there as he goes down'. No, he's dived, he's trying to con the referee and yet will probably get away unpunished, yet down the other end, a player scoring a goal will get booked & possibly sent off for celebrating with his own fans. 9 times out of 10 whenever theres a challenge, the result is a player on the deck writhing in apparent agony and yet only moments later will be the lucky recipient of a modern day miracle as his broken leg or fractured skull is suddenly healed!! As a United fan I'm stuck having to put up with Nani's antics every week but every club has them and thier draining the last dregs of integrity from this sport as season by season the powers that be do aboslutely nothing to deter the growing number of cheats within the game!!

  • Comment number 93.

    sorry the respect campaign will never work unless VERY VERY important decisions are correct or touch line technology is introduced. I hate the respect campaingn TBF, the players and managers have to keep schtom even when the ref is completely wrong. I'll always be on SAFs and AW sided when it comes to complaining about refs. what is SCU(m)more going to do about refs the do poorly in games??

    Also i have a son and i tell you one thing a footballer will NEVER EVER be his role model, WHY? because i want him to do more than kick a ball and have every one do everything for you from booking an appointment at the hostpital to booking an appointment at the hairdressers

  • Comment number 94.

    #90 Keanos Boot - Bin 606

    The point is that referee's have to make judgements in a very short space of time, against the backdrop of cheating players.

    Managers etc have the benefit of footage when making their complaints.

    So, we're not really comparing like with like.

  • Comment number 95.

    It's a fairly straight-forward idea I've got to curb the dissent - only the captain is allowed to speak to the referee.

    The Premier League ought to look at how the refs work in rugby and also in my sport, American football. As an official, I get plenty of questions and sometimes abuse thrown my way by players and coaches. Abuse of a referee, if personally directed at him, can (and usually does) result in a major penalty being thrown against that team. With that threat, players usually cut down on the verbals but often will ask me to look at stuff (for example, are they being illegally blocked or tackled).

    The important thing is that our officials have an open front. We welcome players' dialogue in a respectful manner, and that is the reason I enjoy officiating in the British league so much because the players respect the stripes. It's also the precise reason I'd never go into football refereeing because I simply couldn't cope with the abuse that'd be hurled at me on a Sunday morning, by lager louts who watch their heroes do the same and think it's OK.

    I agree with some people that the standard of refereeing does need to be improved. The FA need to assign some accountability for the referee. For example, if a referee awards a controversial penalty, he should be able to defend his position on TV afterwards in the same way the manager has to account for his side's defeat. I understand the viewpoint of the ref as I am one myself, it is arguably the hardest job in football (don't give me the manager's is, they get paid millions in the Prem to blow millions on mediocre players) but he needs to be accountable for the actions in order for respect to be established. A good example from the Dutch league a few years back - the Rotterdam derby between Sparta and Feyenoord. Sparta won 2-1 on the day, but the talking point afterwards was referee Bas Nijhuis' decision to send off three players in the space of 10 minutes. He came on TV and defended his decisions, talking about the tackles and dismissals from his point of view on the field. He was lauded in the press the following morning for his 'excellent performance'.

  • Comment number 96.

    why can't we go the way of rugby - and only have the captains be able to talk to the ref? and if you are insolent, move the free kick forward, till they shut up and learn. as a teacher i've had kids swearing at people and when you tell them them off, they say so what Rooney does it so why not?! it's an endemic problem but i can see their solution falling flat unless they willing to enforce it properly.

    i think you should b allowed to give feedback on the ref but we shouldn't b trying to bring them down, theirs is a hard job, we don't do enough to help them and the ridiculous thing is they want the help, but idiots like Blatter refuse to embrace technology when every other sport does!

  • Comment number 97.

    CoachJeff wrote:
    The first major improvement is for the BBC to stop its practice of provoking players and managers in the required post match interviews.

    TV & Radio interviewers need to be fined, banned, and sanctioned more than managers do. Just about every single time the first thing they ask is "What about decision xxx by the referee did that cost you the game?"
    You do it because it creates news and gets you paid - you just dont care how damage it causes.

    It is utterly ridiculous you can blog about this problem and not recognise your own role in it.


    Spot on!! Why does nobody see that this is the real problem? From questions designed to get a quote criticizing refs to the rubbish in the gossip papers these 'role models' the media created have no chance. They kick a ball for a living, most of them very well, so lets just leave them to it. Every time you read a story that brings the game into disrepute or sets a bad example etc. just remember who it is announcing it to 60 million people.

  • Comment number 98.

    It always seems to easy to blame the managers and the players for not showing respect but whilst referees sit in their protective box nothing will change.
    Players and managers are going to get upset in the heat of the moment if a perceived bad decision goes against them, the stakes are so high now in terms of money that every decision can change the result. It also doesn't help when hounded by the press seconds after the final whistle to be asked what you thought of the officials.
    Clarity is needed over who can feedback comments to the Referee's committee on their performance. If manager's and players are not allowed to feedback after a game then the only outlet they have is the press.
    Referee's should also be allowed to face the press and explain why they made a certain decision. It should also be made public that if a referee is deemed to have made too many mistakes in a game that he has been yellow or red carded, in effect downgraded or banned for the following week.
    FIFA and UEFA also have to look at what can be done to improve standards. We have seen 2 extra officials in European games but in most cases they are like spectators and don't even flag when they see an incident.
    Would it not be better to have an extra 2 linesmen (or assistant referees running the touchline) to ensure that both sides of the pitch are covered. For corners the linesman on the opposite touchline could move in closer to get a better view.
    Also at top flight football could they not introduce an instant replay either like in rugby, cricket or tennis. Alternatively an official in a tv box watching different camera angles with a 1 second time delay.
    On the matter of players surrounding the referee or making the most of a challenge something needs to be done in retrospect if not during the game. I watch my 8 year old playing football and some boys constantly challenge the referee's decision or dive and scream to try and win a foul. I can't remember this happening when I was young and you didn't have the same antics on the tv. Only the captain and the player being disciplined should be allowed to speak to the referee. 10 yard exclusion for everyone else.

  • Comment number 99.

    S.adly i dont think you could find 22 premiership players who could play a game without a ref. they have no concept of respect for the officials,their opponents or the game.The only way for this to improve is for the managers not to tolerate this behaviour in their own players. When did a manager last discipline his own player for diving,trying to get an opponent booked or swearing at a ref? it was probably cloughie.

  • Comment number 100.

    94. At 10:26am on 1st Apr 2011, MrBlueBurns wrote:

    Yes we are comparing like with like... you make a decision, you get it right or you get it wrong.

    A manager is paid to win silverware, a football is paid to win football matches, a referee is paid to make the right decisions on the pitch. Two of those face consequences when they don't do their jobs, I'll let you guess which one doesn't. That is a like for like comparison, no matter how you try and spin it!


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