Northumberland FA referees strike in protest against abuse

Parents were left to referee matches over the weekend.

<p>The strike was supported by the Northumberland FA (Image:  Northumberland FA)</p>

The strike was supported by the Northumberland FA (Image: Northumberland FA)

Referees from the Northumberland Football Association went on strike last week against the abuse they receive.

On Sunday, November 8 a total of 21 referees withdrew from their scheduled fixtures to leave clubs feeling the impact of how important they are.

Coaches and parents were forced to step in and try their hand at the tricky task of refereeing in their absence.

The action was supported by the Northumberland FA and Northumberland Football Leagues, who stood in solidarity with the regularly abused referees.

A statement from the Northumberland FA read: "The action was as a direct result of the current levels of unacceptable abuse directed at our match officials since the start of the season.

"We are currently getting reports of referees being abused every other day – and this is just the instances which are reported to us.

"We know that many more go unreported."

Moving forward, the two organisations have put together a plan to help stamp out the abuse of referees in the area.

It includes a 'positive weekend' on Saturday, November 20 and Sunday, November 21 where spectators, coaches and players are expected to only make positive remarks.

There will also be a monthly competition to reward positive behaviour and mandatory pre-season training sessions on expected behaviour, amongst other initiatives.

Should those still fail, the FA has outlined further action it may take, including a 'no spectator' weekend.

Northumberland FA Executive Officer, Andrew Rose-Cook, said: “We are all passionate about football – but passion cannot be used as an excuse for unacceptable behaviour.

“Our referees are committed to helping our players and teams have a positive and enjoyable match day experience. Abusing them is simply not acceptable. We cannot and will not allow this to continue. This weekend is the first step in a season-long campaign to encourage everyone in grassroots football to be ‘100% positive’. I appreciate that this is an ambitious target – but this situation has not gone far enough and we are determined to take a firm stand.”

Northumberland Football Leagues’ General Manager, Ian Coates, added: “All the referees at our central venues are new to officiating. They are children themselves and are still learning – yet they are receiving horrendous verbal abuse when they make an honest mistake, or make a decision that not everyone agrees with.

"I would urge every one of our parents and coaches to take a look at their own behaviour. Please support and encourage our referees – without them there would be no football. Let’s all move forward together in a positive manner.”