SSN/FA study: Lack of respect for referees at elite level has trickle-down effect on grassroots
As part of Support The Ref week, survey gathered by SSN and The FA reveals how elite-level attitudes has negative impact
Last Updated: 19/03/18 1:15pm
Lack of respect for referees at elite level is encouraging poor behaviour within the grassroots game, according to a survey gathered by SSN and The FA.
The survey, completed by 2,905 grassroots officials as part of Sky Sports' Support The Ref week, found that 91 per cent believe the apparent lack of respect for their colleagues in the elite game is a "big or fairly big problem" for grassroots refs and the behaviour towards them.
The exclusive collaboration between Sky Sports and the FA also discovered that 76 per cent of grassroots refs believe elite managers' criticisms of referees is a big or fairly big problem.
At a local level, 78 per cent felt parents' criticism of refs was a big or fairly big problem, and 66 per cent disagreed that referees got enough credit for correct decisions.
Just under half (47 per cent) felt there is a clear pathway from being a grassroots ref to the PGMOL elite referees, and 55 per cent considered PGMOL referees to be role models.
When asked which rules grassroots refs would most like to see introduced to football, sin bins were most popular, though the majority felt they should only be implemented for dissent.
Rugby was often cited by refs as an example to follow, particularly with regards to respect, with the idea that only captains should be allowed to talk to the referee proving popular.
Some felt referees and players needed more clarity and consistency in applying certain rules, and suggested courses or training for players so they can understand the laws of the game.
When asked one thing refs would change about the job, respect for officials was highest on the list, while others stressed that the perception of referees is still a problem. They want to be seen as positive facilitators of football, not a negative figure that ruins the game.
'Camaraderie' was referenced as the most enjoyable part of being a referee, along with love for the game and fitness benefits.
According to the FA, there are now 29,248 referees in England, an increase of 1,210 referees from 2016/17 to 2017/18. Female referees account for 3.6 per cent of these, and though male referee numbers are slowly declining, female levels are static.
The average male referee is aged 34, while the average female is aged 24.
In a separate study from the FA of 4,893 referees below Conference level last March, 75 per cent of referees were satisfied with their on-field experience that season, but only 29 per cent had a positive attitude towards the FA.
All week on Sky Sports News and across SkySports.com, we'll be highlighting some of the challenges and issues faced by our referees from the grassroots right up to the Premier League.
We'll get thoughts and reaction on the trickle-down impact elite-level refereeing has on grassroots officials, and assess which suggested rule changes could realistically be implemented in years to come.
Follow the debate all week on SSN and on our digital platforms at www.skysports.com/supporttheref