AFP London, United Kingdom
Jul 20, 2016, 11.59 AM
A crackdown on behaviour will kick in when the new English season starts with referees instructed to show yellow and red cards to unruly players, the Premier League said on Wednesday.
The unedifying sight of snarling players berating officials over decisions or hurling abuse has been the scourge of the game and the Premier League, English Football League and Football Association have all clearly had enough.
In a joint directive the three organisations said disrespect towards match officials had to stop.
"We and our clubs have been discussing for some time concerns that certain elements of player behaviour are overstepping the mark -- the mass confrontations, overt displays of dissent and offensive language," Richard Scudamore, the Premier League's executive chairman, said on Wednesday.
"We are viewed by millions week in week out -- including lots of young people -- and it is our collective position that these types of behaviour should no longer be tolerated,"
Vigorous discipline clamp down
From the start of this season, players who use offensive language towards officials will be punished with a red card, while aggressive physical contact will also earn an instant sending off.
More yellow cards are likely as referees have been told to book all players who run to officials, stand face to face with them or aggressively invade their personal space.
If a referee is surrounded by multiple players, he is mandated to book at least one of the offenders, and Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore insisted there will be no softening of the approach if it leads to a flurry of dismissals early in the season.
The behaviour of coaches and technical staff will also be more strictly controlled.
Football League chief executive Richard Harvey said the new directives were not just an idle threat.
"To be clear, this is a set of instructions from the football authorities to referees to take action against certain behaviour that we will not tolerate in our matches," he said.
Incidents which underlined the need for a new hardline approach include Leicester striker Jamie Vardy abusing referee Jonathan Moss after being controversially sent off for diving against West Ham in April and the series of brawls that marred Tottenhams crucial draw at Chelsea and led to big fines for both clubs.
"That (Chelsea game) wasnt a trigger for this but it underscored a good reason why we needed to get a move on. We are saying this behavioural stuff, which is pretty black and white, isnt acceptable, '' FA chief executive Martin Glenn said.
In the Premier League West Bromwich Albion were the worst offenders last season with 11 yellow cards shown for dissent, according to a survey in the Guardian.
The Premier League will for the first time meet all clubs prior to the season in a bid to ensure the plan is understood and Championship clubs have contributed to a fund that will pay for full-time referees in the second tier.
The Football League season kicks off on Aug. 5 with the Premier League starting a week later.