|The Lincolnshire County FA have supported new action brought in by a local football league to protect referees after players were warned over their conduct on the pitch.
Leonard Buonarrotti, 21, is one of three referees that officiates games in the University of Lincoln’s competitive 5-a-side league and has concluded that “abuse comes with the game”.
“Every single game, I officiate, unfortunately, is full of abuse.
“It’s mostly verbal abuse when I give a decision that players do not like. They’ll call me a **** and try and get in my head”.
In a statement from the University of Lincoln Student Union, team captains were told that there were numerous reports of “inappropriate conduct from players participating in the league”.
The warning stated that “referees have now been instructed to have a zero-tolerance policy for any form of abusive comment and cards will be issued on every occasion”.
Mr. Buonarrotti feels more comfortable now that there’s a card system in place for when situations escalate.
“I think that the threat of a card system helps a lot. This wasn’t present last year and now, when a player gets a card, they’re fined.
“I try not to use that. I tend to try and keep the peace, pull the players to the side, and have a conversation with them. However, the threat of being carded and fined does help a lot to defuse situations.”
The abuse of referees has long been an issue in football.
Research at the University of Portsmouth found that three in five referees in England that were spoken said they experienced verbal or physical abuse every couple of games, with recent FA statistics showing that 380 bans were issued for attacks on grassroots referees nationwide in the 2021/22 season.
However, Michael Brader, the Lincolnshire FA Referee Development Officer, believes that the local footballing authorities are making steps in the right direction to protect referees from all types of abuse.
“We back any league to give their referees absolute power to stand up for themselves in the face of abuse from players and those watching from the sidelines.”