The FA and UEFA have implemented a “Respect campaign” in recent seasons with, let’s be honest, minimal effect. The role of such a movement is to address the issue that players are too colourful with their language and too brash with their general attitude towards refs.
A noble attempt, you may say, in trying to dignify the game and prevent the players from coming across as bad role models to young children, since it is the case today that the players as labelled delinquent, bad tempered potty-mouths. Not to say that in some cases this isn’t true but I think the majority of players don’t find it difficult to respect the referee if he earns it.
That’s the thing about respect; it has to be earned. Not only can it not be brought about by a respect campaign, it certainly cannot be brought about when it is not deserved and the truth of the matter is that some referees just don’t deserve respect.
A couple of weeks ago The Secret Footballer column in the Guardian discussed referees and not the players behaviour towards them but the referee’s behaviour towards the players. Obviously no names were mentioned but it was confirmed that this player had been spoken to improperly by the referee and that it’s not uncommon to hear the referee’s using profanities as much as the players.
How can the campaign itself be respected and sincere when the referees, whom this is supposed to benefit, are dishing out their fair share of abuse?
I think the refs could help themselves more with their actions and reactions on the pitch than any limp campaign, no matter how much it is pushed. I have seen, on several occasions, a player will run over to the official be it referee or linesman simply to ask why the decision was made. It is fair to say that in many cases the players are too aggressive but the official usually attempts to ignore them which sparks further fuel to the already overheated player. Rather than be confident in their decision and explain themselves they back away from confrontation and refuse to engage with the players.
By not commanding respect on the pitch and using the same language which could get players sent off, the referees are making a mockery and a hypocrisy of the respect campaign causing players and fans to deplore the whole situation even more.
ThisisFutbol.com are seeking new writers to join the team! If you’re passionate about football, drop us a line at “firstname.lastname@example.org” to learn more.