A referee on Merseyside has praised a trial that has recently been put in practice to improve the protection of referees.
Behnam Rabiei, who regularly referees grassroots fixtures, has high hopes for the initiative.
He said: “There’s been loads of reports that referees are being abused and loads of bad things happening to them. That’s not what the FA or anyone wants. So, they started this to improve the behaviour of players. I think that little camera now will be a gamechanger.”
The FA announced last month that they will be trialling the use of bodycams on referees.
The new initiative, in collaboration with Reveal Media, will see 100 referees over four leagues in the country be equipped with bodycams designed to deter players from bad behaviour towards referees.
The scheme started over the weekend and isn’t the first time the FA have tried to improve player attitude towards referees on the pitch. Sin bins were introduced in the 2019-20 season to tackle the ever-growing problem but the punishment wasn’t successful.
Rabiei explained the FA’s previous plan of action to tackle abuse.
He said: “With the sin bins introduced by the FA, if you received abuse that wasn’t too bad to receive a red card then you would give them a yellow card and the player would be off the pitch for 10 minutes. They (The FA) hoped that it worked, and I think it helped, but not as much as they had hoped. They wanted something better than a sin bin, that’s why they introduced the cameras.”
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Poor conduct towards officials has been a hot topic of debate recently.
In a high-profile example, Fulham’s Alexander Mitrovic was shown a red card for putting his hands on an official last Sunday during their FA Cup defeat to Manchester United. Whilst the Serbian forward will face punishment for his actions, similar actions towards referees in grassroots football may still happen.
Many think retrospective action should be taken towards players abusing match officials. Whilst the drive towards improving player etiquette on the pitch is ongoing, Rabiei thinks the punishment of players deemed to be abusing referees will allow us to see how serious the authorities take this issue.
He said: “The important thing is what the FA do after that. Is it going to be a two game ban? A three game ban? Is the player going to be allowed to play anymore? If the bodycam is just used as something that’s not important, or if the FA doesn’t support the referee as much as they’re supposed to do, it won’t change anything really. It depends on the FA.”