Football Association to try Referee body cameras in grassroots football

NEW YORK: The Football Association on Friday announced it will trial body cameras on referees in grassroots leagues in England in a bid to ascertain whether the technology could help “improve participant behaviour and respect towards referees”.
Paul Field, president of England’s Referees’ Association, this week said that the verbal and physical abuse of grassroots referees in the country is getting so bad that lives are at risk.
A BBC questionnaire responded to by more than 900 amateur referees revealed worrying levels of abuse and intimidation with multiple cases of death threats being made.
Last year the FA banned 380 players and coaches for attacking or threatening referees and match officials.
“The aim of the trial is to explore whether the use of bodycams improves participant behaviour and respect towards referees in the grassroots game,” the FA said in a statement.
“All referees taking part will receive the support, education and training required to use the bodycams effectively in approved fixtures. The footage can also be accepted as evidence in a disciplinary hearing if required.
“As part of the trial, we’ll be tracking and evaluating the impact of the bodycams on behaviour across the participating leagues and, if it’s successful, may look to roll it out across additional adult grassroots football leagues in England during the 2023-24 season.”
The FA said the trial will begin this weekend with four adult grassroots football leagues in Middlesbrough, before progressing to three other leagues.
It added that around 100 referees would be provided with the body camera equipment, which is produced by Reveal Media.
“Referees are the lifeblood of our game and we thank the International Football Association Board for their support in allowing us to undertake this new grassroots bodycam trial, the first of its nature globally,” said FA chief executive Mark Bullingham.
“We’ve listened to feedback from the referee community, and we hope this trial will have a positive impact on the behaviour towards them — so that ultimately they can enjoy officiating in a safe and inclusive environment.” –Agencies