Hundreds of referee attacks see players and coaches banned for ‘toxic’ behaviour

A total of 380 players and coaches were banned for threatening or attacking referees in grassroots football last year.

The FA's disciplinary reports for the 2021/22 season show a series of incidents in both youth and adult football. The issue has escalated in recent weeks after an official was assaulted in Wigan.

Dave Bradshaw suffered multiple broken bones in the attack which occurred after he had sent off a Platt Bridge player, who were losing 3-2 to Wigan Rose. A 24-year-old man has since been arrested.

READ MORE:Man, 24, arrested after referee was viciously assaulted and left with broken bones

Another recent incident in Jersey is being investigated after a coach allegedly verbally abused a referee during an under-11s match. Organisations around the UK are now beginning to take a stand.

The Merseyside Youth Football League has cancelled all their fixtures for this weekend. Their statement said there's been "multiple incidents of inappropriate and threatening behaviour" towards officials and "we cannot allow this toxic behaviour to continue to escalate".

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Senior ref Keith Radcliffe told BBC Radio 5 Live: "It's parents, managers, coaches. They constantly bombard officials with a must-win attitude and say 'you've got it wrong'. They all want to have the next Messi and Ronaldo, because they couldn't be.

"A national rule has to come in to say if any misdemeanours happen, they are banned for three or four weeks, never mind a week. It can't continue. If it doesn't stop, referees are actually getting physically assaulted and there is going to be a national strike."

The FA have responded with a body camera trial set to be implemented at the start of next year, which is hoped will act as a deterrent against physical and verbal abuse.


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