Premier League football, and the wider game in England, is known for being competitive and compelling, but also for its fairness and for being played in the right spirit. However, the English football authorities have noticed over the past four seasons that intolerable behaviour by players and managers in their competitions have reached unacceptable levels in certain areas. Therefore, the Premier League, EFL and The FA have announced a collective undertaking to improve behaviour across the game. Their undertaking will task the Professional Game Match Officials (PGMO) to take a stronger position and action towards unacceptable participant conduct. This will focus on behaviour towards match officials, with the aim of reducing disrespectful conduct, such as aggressively challenging decisions or running from distance to confront an official.
The PGMO will apply the Laws of the Game to manage rigorously the following incidents of bad behaviour with the following sanctions:
Dissent towards match officials
Yellow cards will be issued to players who:
- Show visibly disrespectful behaviour to any match official
- Respond aggressively to decisions
- Confront an official face to face
- Run towards an official to contest a decision
Offensive, insulting or abusive language or gestures towards match officials
- Red cards will be issued to players who confront match officials and use offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures towards them.
Physical contact with match officials
- A yellow card for physical contact with any match official in a non-aggressive manner (e.g. an inquisitive approach to grab the official’s attention).
- A red card for physical contact with match officials in an aggressive or confrontational manner.
Surrounding match officials
- A yellow card for at least one player when two or more from a team surround a match official.
- The FA will continue to sanction teams when they surround match officials.
Conduct in the technical area
- The requirements of the Technical Area Code of Conduct will be more rigorously enforced for players and club staff.
- Additionally, match officials will be required to retain professional detachment from players and club staff at all times.
“We and our clubs have been discussing for some time concerns that certain elements of player behaviour are overstepping the mark and it is our collective position that these types of behaviour should no longer be tolerated. Things happen in the heat of the moment during fast and highly competitive football; we still want to see the passion fans enjoy and demand, but players and managers have to be aware there are lines that should not be crossed”, said Richard Scudamore, Executive Chairman of the Premier League. “We all have a collective responsibility to ensure high standards of respect are maintained – from the grassroots to the professional game”, said Martin Glenn, FA chief executive. “Above all, we don’t want youngsters mimicking incidents of dissent or abuse they see on TV in the school playground or the park pitches. English football relies on its officials and anything we can do to protect and promote the work of our 28,000 referees in this country is to be supported”.