A new initiative from the Ref Support charity urges grassroots football fans to cheer on referees on the pitch when football returns after lockdown.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday announced its roadmap to get England out of lockdown, with amateur football teams able to compete again from March 29.
Ref Support has come up with the campaign, called “Give The Ref A Hand,” which they hope will end the hostility some grassroots match officials receive each week.
The CEO of the charity, Martin Cassidy, spoke with Sky Sports News about the positive goals the initiative wants to achieve and urged everyone involved in grassroots football to think about the negative impact threatening behavior and language can have on amateur referees.
Cassidy also presented recent examples of professional arbitrators who have been the target of abuse.
“Now that the government has announced that we can all go back to what we love – playing football – I just think with all the negativity that has been there, with the Mike Dean incident and what happened with Darren Drysdale – we just want to be able to try to turn those negative events into refocus events and make it a positive outcome, ”Cassidy said.
“It’s called the ‘Give your hand to the referee’ campaign. We want all the grassroots clubs, or more, to applaud the referees on our first weekend back and give them a helping hand in making football positive for everyone.
“Let’s come back [after lockdown] and improve the game together.
“We’ve been talking about it for a while now and we’ve kept it under the radar. We’ve talked to a lot of clubs, a lot of leagues, and no one has said no.
“The only thing anyone said was ‘the FA didn’t tell us about it.’ It’s our chance as a grassroots charity to say, “We’re going to make this our own. The national governing body has its own challenges.
“Let’s take it in hand, do something to improve the game.”
Cassidy also pointed out how amateur umpires can come face to face with those who have been abusive to them in everyday scenarios.
“With some of the things that happen in grassroots football, the referees run into these people who threaten and mistreat them. They are in the local supermarket, in the local pub, in school,” he added. .
“Let’s just take a step back, recalibrate everyone and see what we’re really doing.
“Does it work, does it improve our game, what are you yelling at people?”
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