The FA Launches New Respect Campaign That is Sure to Test the Resolve of the Top Referees
On Sunday, when Manchester United take on Portsmouth in the annual Community Shield fixture at Wembley, a marker may have been set for the future of our game and the respect that referees rightfully receive in times to come.We may look back in ten years time and say that that was the day when football changed dramatically for the better. It may turn out; however, that we look back and say that the day represented another failed attempt by the FA to resurrect our game into something that resembled some discipline and order. At least Brian Barwick is trying to do something about the current player behaviour in our game. His ideas may be implemented in many years to come if they are successful, so let’s at least give them a try.Football currently contains far too much abuse to officials, and a much too greater amount of disrespect towards the men that run our games every week. They deserve more; it is as simple as that. The FA’s new ‘respect’ campaign is designed to turn this whole negative situation around.Referees will always make mistakes, and human error will always play some part in the mistakes they make, but football could not run without these dedicated officials. Supporters will always abuse them when a decision goes against their team, and that is something that the referees have accepted when they take on the profession, but it does not mean the players should follow suit in any way.It has been proven that referees perform to the best of their abilities when they have the respect of the two teams that they are officiating, so when players react angrily to decisions it will only mean the remainder of the match has less chance of being refereed correctly. This means the players are contributing to some of the poor decisions that are made with their actions.The Manchester United and Portsmouth players will all wear ‘respect’ t-shirts during their warm-ups before the Community Shield on Sunday afternoon, as well as their match shirts having ‘respect’ featured on the sleeves. So let’s hope the players on the pitch actually respect the campaign itself and treat the referee Peter Walton with the respect he deserves. Of course players will get frustrated when referees make poor decisions against their team, but when a few individuals constantly abuse an official throughout a match then it causes serious problems.The new ‘respect’ campaign itself, which will be launched this season throughout all football in this country, from the Premier League to grass-roots level, means that club captains will play a much greater role in keeping their team disciplined during a game and make sure that their conduct is excellent. The referee himself will have a lot closer relationship with the captain as well, and he will be the main contact point of a team for an official. And if a player is a long way away from the referee when the official wants to speak to him, then he may speak to the captain instead if he is closer.Referees have also been heavily encouraged to deal very firmly with any use of abuse language towards them from players or management staff. A new abrupt stance to this kind of unacceptable dissent could end up being totally being wiped out if red cards are brandished early on.These new rules could possibly turn around the disgusting attitude players occasionally show towards top officials in this country. We do not want to see Ashley Cole turning his back to Mike Riley again, and we do not want to see Javier Mascherano refuse to leave the pitch after being dismissed by Steve Bennett again. These unsavoury incidents may have prompted the FA to act, and they may have even been blessings in disguise.But whether the new ‘respect’ campaign is to prove successful will be judged at the end of the season, when we had a chance to view how players treat officials, and just as importantly how the officials treat the players. If the Community Shield on Sunday sees no improvement in the abuse directed towards referees it will not be the end of the campaign by any means, but if it does not work in the coming months then it may well be.Let’s hope it works though.