Bodycam trial for grassroots referees set for 2023


A message of support was shared during a game between the Republic of Ireland and Portugal last year

A trial of referees wearing body cameras in adult grassroots football to help prevent abuse could start early next year.

The Football Association says it has asked the sport’s lawmakers, the International Football Association Board (Ifab), for permission to start the trial.

On Tuesday, BBC Sport reported that bans were handed to 380 players and coaches for attacking or threatening referees and match officials in English grassroots football last season.

“The aim of the trial, the first globally of this nature, would be to explore whether the use of bodycams improves participant behaviour, while providing additional safety for match officials in the adult grassroots game,” said an FA spokesperson.

“We will be tracking the impact of the trial on behaviour and, if it’s successful, will look to roll it out nationally and internationally.

“We are finalising the details of the trial with Ifab and further information will be communicated in due course.”

Amateur referee Dave Bradshaw – who was assaulted and knocked unconscious in a game in Greater Manchester earlier this month – backed the bodycam idea and demanded “tougher action”.

He was taken to hospital with “significant, but not life-threatening” injuries, including “cracked ribs, whiplash and concussion” which Bradshaw – speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live – said “for the last seven or eight days have been very painful”.

“I have found a lot of abuse surrounds the younger age groups,” added Bradshaw.

He said that “99% of the time games go on and you get no abuse whatsoever”, but added: “The thing about this country that is aggravating me is we seem to have the mentality that until something goes wrong we won’t bother.”

Referees Association president Paul Field called for “something quite radical”, including the “same banning orders as football hooligans” for abusive players and parents.

According to the FA, there are about 28,000 qualified referees in England and about 4,000 people take refereeing courses each year.

“We have to take this whole issue out of society,” Field told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“Football is a reflection of society. I said before, one day a referee in this country will get killed and statistically that is likely to happen because referees are being abused more and more.”

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