The Respect programme was launched at the start of the 2008-09 season in response to a range of behavioural problems that were having an impact on the long term sustainability and popularity of football. Its original objectives were:
- To recruit and retain enough referees for the demands of the game at every level
- To reduce the number of assaults on referees
- To achieve an improvement in on- field player discipline particularly in the area of dissent to referees
- To manage a step change in youth football as to what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour from parents and spectators.
Four seasons on what impact has the programme had?
- In 2007 there were 22,918 referees in 2012 there are 28,700. The biggest challenge is retaining a group of predominately young referees in the game. Over 25 per cent (>7,500) are aged 14-19
- The number of reported referee assaults (all categories) decreased by 16 per cent in 2011-12 and the number of ‘Assaults causing serious bodily harm’ reduced from eleven to six.
- Of 8,500 Respect reports submitted by referees in 2011-12 the average marks for the behaviour of participants and enjoyment of referees exceed four out of five
- In the Premier League and Football League the number of dissent cautions has reduced by 17 per cent since 2008
- Sixty-six dissent cautions in the Premier League and 113 in the Championship in 2011-12
- There is a dissent caution in less than one in five games in the Premier League and Football League
- The number of on field misconduct charges and warnings increased in the professional game in 2011-12: a response to guidance issued at the start of the season and greater consistency in reporting by match officials and assessors
- The total number of dissent cautions in all affiliated football has fallen since 2008 although the number of general cautions has increased
- The area of grassroots adult football has proved more difficult to change behaviour but the referee’s experience has improved
- The environment of youth football has improved. There has been widespread adoption of Codes of Conduct, Touchline Barriers, Pitch side Marshalls, Welfare officers, Respect briefings parents and training for coaches.
Real progress has been made but much work still needs to be done. The FA is committed to the promotion of Respect on a long term basis and will continue to work to improve the experience and environment of the game.