“Stronger Punishments” needed for abusing match officials according to Gloucestershire Referee Secretary Martin Pates

The Gloucestershire FA’s Referee Secretary Martin Pates believes stronger punishments are needed at grassroots level for players that abuse match officials. 

Last season there were 77 reported incidents of assaults against referee’s and other match officials, of which 15 were left unproven. This has led to authorities pleading for a greater deterrent to reduce the threat that officials face. 

Pates believes that only harsher bans will deter players from abusing referees both physically and verbally. 

Martin Pates (middle) refereeing the Gloucestershire County Cup final in 2015

He said: ”Stronger punishments are absolutely necessary there needs to be a structure in place to make people think twice.

“Players need to know that they will miss a sustained period of football not just two or three matches.”

There has been a frenzy of social media abuse towards Premier League referees in recent weeks with a number of officials such as Mike Dean receiving online attacks and even death threats.

Pates suggested that it has become easier for people to abuse due to social media but he thinks it may put a spotlight on abuse of referees as a whole. 

He said: “It has always been there and people find it easier to hide behind fake profiles and abuse people. I think now it is just being highlighted in the media which is why people are paying attention.”

However, Pates says that whilst it is certainly a factor, individuals needs to take responsibility for their own actions and cut out the unnecessary abuse.

“Hopefully this will help relieve the issue overall by giving it the attention it needs.”

Many have argued that the attitudes from professional players towards match officials has a major impact on how they are treated at grassroots level. 

“It’s easy to say that abuse at the top level directly impacts grassroots, I’m sure it does. That being said people need to take personal responsibility for their actions.”

He added: “The introduction of sin bins now helps but their is still a lot of abuse in grassroots game from verbal to physical assaults.”

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