Wed, April 10, 2024

Sports’ Overlooked Blind Spot: Addressing Abuse Against Match Officials

Sports’ Overlooked Blind Spot: Addressing Abuse Against Match Officials

Allegations of serious offences and abuse against referees is on the rise in both professional and grassroots football, and reportedly in some other sports such as rugby and tennis. Whilst the culture of abuse may stem from societal behaviours, referees are expected to simply accept this as part of their job. 

Some may believe that referees operating at the elite level have a degree of protection from aggression and intimidation because of the proliferation of cameras and media coverage. Even if that is the case, referees at grassroots level do not have those same protections. 

New FA data shows that allegations of serious offences against referees are on the rise in the grassroots game. Does the problem originate from the lower age groups where children witness aggression from their parents towards referees? Or could it be that the younger age groups mimic what they see professionals do at the elite level? 

This behaviour is of course not limited to players but also extends to managers and sometimes even club owners.  

Without referees and match officials there would be no sport. If that is so, what are governing bodies doing to protect officials and punish those who behave badly? Recently Steven Reid was fined £5000 and given a touchline ban for abusing a match referee in a Premier League game. The club was also fined £75,000. Is this enough given the riches of that league. Should the punishment be greater, or different?

In this session we will hear from leading referees and officials about their experiences on the field of play and learn of the vitriol and abuse they receive through social media and other channels. We will review steps taken to address this issue and explore what further measures should be implemented to improve what appears to many to be a deteriorating situation.

To view the other announced topics, agenda and speaker profiles please visit our event page here


Our Group Ticket permits three tickets to be purchased for the price of two standard price tickets (which works out as £263.33 exc. of VAT per ticket). Please note that this offer is only applicable to standard ticket prices and all three attendees must be from the same organisation. 

For more ticket types please visit the “Tickets” section here.


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