Modern Day Football: a Referees Hell - FA Launch Respect Campaign

Jack MilneContributor IAugust 8, 2008

In an attempt to combat the current sad state of top English football, the FA have launched something they call "The Respect Campaign" in hope of improving attitudes on the pitch. 


"Respect is The FA's programme of activities to combat unacceptable behaviour in our game at every level—on the pitch and from the sidelines.", a FA official said.


Modern day referees working weekly amongst premiership starlets occupy one of the most difficult jobs on the market. Not your average bread winning role, officiating is widely accepted as an undesirable occupation.


Watch any top flight game of present and you're guaranteed to see fuming disputes, ugly aggressive gestures, swearing and a general disregard of the official's role as a disciplinarian.




A referee's primary role is one of a decision maker. However, decisions are not easy to make when you have Oscar winning performances by those such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Didier Drogba.

Consequently, the likelihood of a modern day referee correctly officiating 90 minutes of professional football is slim.

Cheating. It an embarrassment isn’t it?

A typical slow motion replay after a free kick goes like this: the attacking player encounters a slight contact from the boot of another player. It grazes against his slightly muddied left sock. Up go both of his feet in the air. The arms begin to dance, the face skews like a new born baby.

He must be thinking: "This is looking good."

Dependening on the individual there may be a triple roll flourish. Finishing in the innocent fetal position, grasping of the now heavily injured right ankle.

Or was it the left?

How much chance does a referee have of enforcing a fair match with this kind of play-acting going on?


Ok, not every instance of a player going down is a dive. But it’s clear when you see a tackle genuinely bringing someone down.

Or is it?

Even if a player is forced down because of a tackle, they still tend to over exaggerate the fall.

This is the culture which has become ever more omnipresent in the Premiership over the past couple of years.

It has come to the point now you'll actually laugh after seeing a theatrical performance of blatant diving.

Are these clowns? Or footballers?


Diving is demeaning to football and goes against everything the FA supposedly supports, namely ‘fair play’.

But it's not all the FA's fault. The players rule the roost now.

Referee's just don't hand out punishment like they used to.

Whilst it is true that some refs in the business will wave yellows and reds in collisions with dirty lips, but this seems to be the exception rather than the rule.



The current scenario may be likened to an unassuming, friendly high school teacher who continuously fails to hand out sufficient punishments to delinquent brats who shoulder punch kids next to them. 

That kind of leniency will only encourage the brats to continue to do the same.



The desire and pressure to win is so high nowadays, it's understandable that players' emotions will often take over during their protests after important decisions.

But more often that not these emotions result in aggressive behaviour towards officials, bordering on abuse. And what's more, the aggressive nature of these protests has become acceptable behaviour.

Maybe if it were not seen as acceptable then officials would reach for their books more often.


Every weekend on Sky Sports and Match of the Day, referees are predominantly on the back foot in these conflicts and appear to have no authority at all.

Compare this to a Rugby fixture; the referee is a figure of complete discipline. One word out of line and you will be sin binned for 10 minutes. Players rarely talk back to officials as there is a respect, a mutual respect, that is non-existent in football.


Some might take a blase view on this matter. Does it even matter if players rant and rave, ‘eff’ and blind?

Of course it does. These are multi-million pound earners, the idols of the young and hopeful footballers of tomorrow. And yet they act like they're starring in their own soap operas week in, week out.

If players won't change themselves to save their own dignity, the officials need to take action. The jaw spasm phenomenon needs to be carded, and quick, or the next generation will be a generation of miniature mega mouths.


For those who make it to the big time, the minimum requirement after the rise of the yellow may soon be ‘the strangle’.

To access the Respect website click here.



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