Football teams get 'zero tolerance' warning over abuse of referees after Northamptonshire FA reveals latest five-year bans

How clubs and county officials are working together to address 'societal problem' affecting football

By Logan MacLeod
Friday, 12th November 2021, 5:24 pm
Updated Friday, 12th November 2021, 5:26 pm

Abusive behaviour towards referees will not be tolerated, footballers, spectators and coaches have been warned in a fresh campaign by Northamptonshire FA.

The county FA says that the actions of a minority will not be tolerated and highlighted bans of five years that had been given out after unacceptable incidents since the start of this season.

A catalogue of issues - including three cases of referees being physically assaulted - has been widely circulated by the county FA on social media.

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Referee abuse stock

As of last month, the FA has dealt with the following issues in Northamptonshire this season alone:

• Misconduct charges - 37

• Charges against spectators - 6

• Discrimination charges - 5

The graphic the NFA issued last month

Referee assaults - 3

• 26 per cent of red cards have been for abuse

• Charged for abuse towards under-18 referees - 10

• Sin bins - 164

• Abandoned games - 7

A spokesperson for Northamptonshire FA said: "In line with the national game, NFA has a zero tolerance policy on abuse or assault of match officials. Sadly, this policy has been utilised in recent weeks to remove perpetrators from the game for a minimum of five years, which is the maximum penalty under current FA regulations.

"There is no excuse for the behaviour of a minority of individuals and football simply will not accept or tolerate it.

"We will continue to support the good work being done by leagues and clubs in Northamptonshire with a continuous and positive education programme aimed at keeping the game safe for everyone."

The county FA is working closely with clubs across Northamptonshire to raise awareness.

One league that is taking a pro-active approach to educating people in grassroots football is the Nene Sunday League in Northampton, which hosted a meeting for club representatives on Thursday night with Northamptonshire FA.

The meeting included presentations by an experienced referee who laid out what was acceptable, and unacceptable, behaviour.

The county FA spokesperson said: "Representatives of the NFA met with officials and club representatives from the Nene Sunday League to identify solutions to what is a societal problem that, due to the competitive nature of the game, often manifests itself within football.

"The NFA added that it is meeting regularly with all county leagues, not just the Sunday League, and are covering a variety of relevant topics, of which 'player and spectator behaviour will continue to be at the forefront alongside safeguarding'.

A Nene Sunday League spokesman echoed the NFA's message.

The spokesman said: "The Nene Sunday League, in conjunction with the NFA, are doing everything they can to tackle the challenges we face.

"In terms of a response to serious incidents, players are banned from playing and clubs are placed on notice that further incidents of this nature will result in them being expelled from the league.

"We are also rolling out an education programme for club officials and players to work on changing attitudes and the cultures within our clubs.

"We are determined to raise standards and improve the experience for all our participants."