Players urged to show respect for referees by clapping them on to the picth
"Let’s not waste this chance to make football a more welcoming and safer environment for all who love our game"
A new initiative has been launched which calls for football players to show their respect for referees and officials by clapping them on to the field of play.
The campaign, called "Give The Ref A Hand", has been devised by charity Ref Support UK and will be introduced at grassroots levels of the game in the hope that the professional leagues introduce it.
"With the return of football announced by government, we all want the game to come back a better game, therefore, we are asking all grassroots clubs to clap out your ref on the first weekend back after lockdown on Easter Weekend," Martin Cassidy, Ref Support UK chief executive, said.
"The ‘Give The Ref A Hand’ campaign is encouraging all football stakeholders to make the game a better game together by giving the ref a hand to create a positive environment for us all to play football in. This is a great way of doing it."
The announcement comes weeks after Mike Dean stepped down from his duties for a weekend after receiving death threats over a decision to send off Tomáš Souček during West Ham's Premier League meeting with Fulham. Darren Drysdale was also in the headlines after being charged by the FA following an incident in which he appeared square up to Ipswich Town's Alan Judge. Drysdale has since had support from many across the football family.
"The idea was born from the death threats to Mike Dean and the positive response to the Darren Drysdale incident," Cassidy continued. "Both of these incidents were negative events but have encouraged many lovers of our game to come out publicly and support the ref in understanding that the abuse of refs must stop if we are all to see a better game after the recent lockdown.
"The ‘Give The Ref A Hand’ will show that there are far more good people involved in our game and when we all come together in a positive way we can change the game in a very positive way. Let’s not waste this chance to make football a more welcoming and safer environment for all who love our game."
Speaking to JOE last week, Paul Field, chairman of the Referees' Association, has called for more to be done by authorities and the Football Association to protect referees from abuse, admitting that he fears an official will be killed if action is not taken.