Footballers to be sent off for coughing on an opponent under new rules 1 month ago

Footballers to be sent off for coughing on an opponent under new rules

It must be a deliberate act

New FA guidance states referees can send players off for intentionally coughing at opponents or match officials.

Over the past few weeks, the FA have produce a long document, detailing all the guidance referees need to officiate matches with Covid-19 restrictions in place, as they have been doing since the restart in June.

A “clear act” of coughing towards someone will be a red card offence but this does not apply to spitting. Match officials will also not have the power to police social distancing during goal celebrations.

Targeted coughing would also lead to police action afterwards after it was deemed a potential criminal offence by the Crown Prosecution Service similar to a physical assault.


The FA’s document for referees states: “Where the referee is certain that someone deliberately, and from close range, coughed into the face of an opponent or match official . . . the referee should take action under the law 12 ‘using offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures’.

“The action of moving the head/mouth towards someone and then coughing would fall within the ‘spirit’ and general definition of a gesture which is ‘a movement of part of the body, especially a hand or the head, to express an idea or meaning’.

“If the incident was not severe enough to merit a sending-off, a caution could be issued for ‘unsporting behaviour — shows a lack of respect for the game’.”

Match officials, who are also asked to avoid spitting, have been told: “Spitting on the floor is not an act of misconduct, unless it is at someone when it is punishable with a red card, as per the laws of the game.

“Other acts of spitting or similar actions, eg nose-clearing, are strongly discouraged for all participants. If advice is offered and clearly ignored, then the referee should make specific mention in their match report to the competition.”