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Football Referees

Volume 574: debated on Thursday 30 January 2014

7. What steps she is taking to protect football referees from inappropriate and abusive behaviour. (902290)

I continue to work with the football authorities to press for improvements. I deplore all forms of bad behaviour on the football pitch, including that directed towards referees. I welcome the FA’s recent work on respect within the game, including reducing assaults against referees by 21% since 2011.

In recent months, two referees officiating the Nuneaton and district Sunday league have been badly assaulted by players. Because those incidents take place on the pitch, the authorities do not apply the same gravity to them as they would if they happened elsewhere. What more can the Minister do to protect referees in the amateur game?

I am appalled to hear of the physical assaults against those two referees, who have no doubt done excellent work in my hon. Friend’s constituency. The FA and Sport England have invested £60 million in the programme on raising standards. I would also welcome the full protection of the law for officials wherever attacks take place to ensure that community football is safe and enjoyable.