Reading FC are taking a stand to ensure our local footballing community clubs #RespectTheRefLast month an article in the Daily Telegraph highlighted the negative impact verbal and sometimes even physical abuse that is being received by referees in grassroots football can have at the very core of our sport.
“The full scale of the ‘shocking’ verbal and physical abuse that is being endured by football referees across England can today be revealed,” the article began. “An investigation by The Telegraph has uncovered a catalogue of incidents that have reduced match officials to tears and prompted threats of a strike,” it continued.
As a club, we wanted to demonstrate the appreciation amongst our local footballing community for grassroots referees and match officials and highlight the importance of respecting the ref.
As a result, we are launching the #RespectTheRef campaign, giving you and your local club the opportunity to win tickets to the first game of the 2016-17 season and enjoy a special behind-the-scenes stadium tour!
Whether you play Sunday League footy, take part in the junior divisions or are involved in a local 5-a-side league, you have a chance to be our guests at Madejski Stadium.
To enter, all you need to do is get both teams together at the final whistle of your game and take a selfie or a snap with the referee in the middle of the photo. Then, post the photograph on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag #RespectTheRef.
According to the Daily Telegraph article, a major new independent study into the issue has also shown that 60 per cent of referees experience significant verbal abuse in at least one in two games, while more than 19 per cent say they have endured physical abuse.
So we really want local grassroots clubs to buy into this campaign and promote the message of ‘Respect the Ref’ – a respect on which our game relies. And of course this message goes beyond the 22 players on the pitch and the man in the middle, but applies to parents, coaches, supporters and anyone involved in the sport, young or old, male or female.
So support the campaign, take a full-time photo and make sure that the next generation learn the game in an environment where they respect the officials, each other and the sport. #RespectTheRef.