Football is watched by millions of people all over the world. This is quite a large number of people that the game can leave an impression on and promoting respect in football amongst players and officials is something that needs serious consideration.
Too often in the current game, players are circling the referee when a big decision, like a penalty or sending off, is made. Players swear at the referee or officials when they are accused of fouling or are offside. Some even attempt to punch or kick their opponents slyly whilst others kick the ball away petulantly after hearing the whistle.
This sort of behaviour is impressionable on younger players and has unfortunately become integrated into the game. Officials have been threatened with violence, attacked by players and given verbal abuse even after issuing warnings. This sort of intimidation causes officials all kinds of problems and consequently makes the whole community suffer as a result.
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This is not to say all teams behave this way but it is a genuine problem in the modern game.
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In rugby, when a referee issues an order, the players listen. There is no crowding around, there is no confrontation with the officials. The players accept the call. Any issues of contention are eliminated by a replay system but after that the decision is final. No further discussion with the referee is conducted.
Individual players who cause the offence are pulled aside and no one else tries to interfere. Captains will occasionally be called in but only after instruction.
These are big players who could physically overpower an official with minimal effort, but they don't because the rules currently forbid it.
Cricket and Tennis
In Cricket, when the umpires give the decision, little resistance is made to argue with them. The decision making can be given clarity with the third eye system but on the whole, hardly any confrontation is had on the pitch.
Once a player is caught out, his wicket is taken or is eliminated by some other means, he just walks straight back to the pavilion. No arguments or abuse. This is all down to respect.
In tennis if a ball is called out, players can call on Hawk-Eye, the computerised replay system to see if the call was correct throughout the game.
Sometimes the umpire will be questioned in this way but it is done in a controlled way - and once technology gives the answer nobody poses another question.
All of these sports have much higher levels of respect than football.
Room for improvement
As mentioned above in all three main UK sports, a replay system could eliminate some of the more controversial incidents in a game.
Offsides and penalties always cause unruly behaviour from the players if they believe the call to be wrong. A simple Hawk-Eye system could transmit to a watch on the referee or lineman’s arm which indicates what the correct decision was, provided by an impartial official from the stands watching the game footage on a monitor.
Meanwhile the captains have to do more. If players will not respect the referee correctly, they should be treated in the same way.
If an incident happens, the captain’s would be called alone to see the referee to discuss the matter. This would prevent the pressure being put on the referee from a group of a players to make a rash decision.
Football is a great sport but the lack of respect for officials causes it to become a game that is frustrating for fans to watch and younger people or non-professionals to play. It has to start from the top, showing anyone playing beneath that respect is needed for everyone to enjoy the nation’s favourite sport.