LONDON: Premier League stars have been warned they must show more respect to referees in a wide-ranging clamp down on petulant behaviour ahead of the new season.
Frustrated by the growing trend for players to harass officials with foul-mouth abuse and aggressive posturing, the Football Association, the Premier League and the Football League yesterday have joined forces in a bid to stamp out the problem.
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The English game’s governing bodies are concerned that scenes of players and managers surrounding match officials, making physical contact and yelling abuse are being copied by children in age-group football.
Incidents which underlined the need for a new hardline approach include Leicester striker Jamie Vardy abusing referee Jonathan Moss after being controversially sent off for diving against West Ham in April and the series of brawls that marred Tottenham’s crucial draw at Chelsea and led to big fines for both clubs.
From the start of this season, players who use offensive language towards officials will be punished with a red card, while aggressive physical contact will also earn an instant sending off.
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Referees have also been told to book all players who run to officials, stand face to face with them or aggressively invade their personal space.
If a referee is surrounded by multiple players, he is mandated to book at least one of the offenders, and Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore insisted there will be no softening of the approach if it leads to a flurry of dismissals.
“If behaviour doesn’t improve, then there will be more cards,” said Scudamore. “We are prepared to deal with it.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st, 2016.
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