English football authorities hope a new initiative will clamp down on indiscipline in the game.
The Football Association, Premier League and English Football League have announced a collective set of guidelines for players and management to abide by or be penalised.
The rules mean yellow cards will be issued to players who visibly show disrespectful behaviour to any match official, respond aggressively to decisions, confront an official face to face, run towards an official to contest a decision or make offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures towards match officials.
Red cards will be issued to players who confront match officials and use offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures towards them.
A yellow card will be issued for at least one player when two or more from a team surround a match official and the FA will continue to sanction teams when they surround match officials.
Futhermore, yellow cards will be issued for physical contact with any match official in a non-aggressive manner and red cards for aggressive or confrontational manner.
And it’s not just on the pitch that the authorities are looking at.
The requirements of the Technical Area Code of Conduct will be more rigorously enforced for players and club staff.
Additionally, match officials will be required to retain professional detachment from players and club staff at all times.
Richard Scudamore, Executive Chairman of the Premier League, said: “We and our clubs have been discussing for some time concerns that certain elements of player behaviour are overstepping the mark and it is our collective position that these types of behaviour should no longer be tolerated.
“Things happen in the heat of the moment during fast and highly competitive football; we still want to see the passion fans enjoy and demand, but players and managers have to be aware there are lines that should not be crossed.”
Shaun Harvey, EFL Chief Executive, said: “Our domestic football has traditionally been admired for its excitement and sense of fair play. However, there are rising concerns amongst supporters, clubs and the football authorities about declining standards of on-field behaviour by some players and managers.
“This season will see the introduction of a second group of full-time referees, who will primarily oversee matches in the Championship, so it is therefore a good time for the EFL, in conjunction with the Premier League and FA, to ensure that match officials have the full support of the football authorities to apply the relevant laws in the interests of the game.
“To be clear, this is not designed to be just another ‘Fair Play’ initiative in order to encourage better conduct by players and managers, this is a clear set of instructions from the football authorities to referees to take action against certain behaviour that we will not tolerate in our matches.”
Martin Glenn, Chief Executive, The FA, added: “We welcome this joint initiative with the Premier League and EFL to promote positive behaviour across the game. It will help reinforce the proactive approach The FA has taken to supporting referees when dealing with disciplinary issues in recent years.
“We all have a collective responsibility to ensure high standards of respect are maintained – from the grassroots to the professional game. Above all, we don’t want youngsters mimicking incidents of dissent or abuse they see on TV in the school playground or the park pitches. English football relies on its officials and anything we can do to protect and promote the work of our 28,000 referees in this country is to be supported.
“Also, it is essential we continue to ensure The FA Cup, a competition respected for its history, tradition and innovation, reinforces the importance of positive behaviour and good sportsmanship.”
English football is known for its competitive nature but in the last four seasons the three authorities have noticed a surge in some instances of intolerable behaviour by players and managers.
Their undertaking will task the Professional Game Match Officials (PGMO) to take a stronger position and action towards unacceptable participant conduct.
This will focus on behaviour towards match officials, with the aim of reducing disrespectful conduct such as aggressively challenging decisions or running from distance to confront an official.
The PGMO will apply the Laws of the Game to manage rigorously the following incidents of bad behaviour with the following sanctions.