FA wants more respect for refs in new season

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore arrives for a Premier League panel hearing in London, April 27, 2007. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) - Team captains in football will have a key role in improving players’ behaviour towards referees next season under a new Football Association scheme.

The initiative, dubbed “Respect”, was unveiled on Tuesday as a series of measures to improve the relationship between players and match officials as well as conduct in the technical area.

“The referee will use the captain to a far greater degree,” an FA spokesman said. “The captain will be the first and main point of contact for the referee during the game.”

In all four tiers of the professional game, captains will join their manager or coach in meeting the referee when they hand over the team sheets before a match.

During the game, if a player’s conduct is causing problems, the referee will include the captain and no other senior players in a discussion.

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore told the FA’s website ( “Football engages, motivates and inspires -- but at times we know it can spill over and get ugly.

“The Premier League, our clubs, the players and the referees are all engaged; we want to make sure that this ends up being much more than a campaign and results in making unacceptable behaviour just that. Unacceptable.”

The FA conducted a trial at grassroots level last season whereby only captains could speak to match officials. However, the referees preferred to have the option to talk to any player.

The initiative extends to grassroots football, where the FA hopes to curb the abuse and intimidation of referees and also the excessive demands placed on young players by parents and coaches on the sidelines.

Editing by Trevor Huggins