Keith Hackett’s open letter to the Football Association

Keith Hackett’s open letter to the Football Association

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    Respect
    You Are The Ref has led the way in highlighting some alarming cases of abuse of match officials.

    It has led us to question whether football’s eight-year-old Respect initiative has run out of legs.

    Now, on behalf of YATR and all referees, Keith Hackett has written this open letter to FA chairman Greg Dyke…

    Dear Mr Dyke,

    When you took on the role of chairman at the Football Association you projected the ‘Respect’ campaign, which was launched back in 2008.

    Like most campaigns, this one started off with a great deal of razzmatazz. Also, like most campaigns, it now appears to have fizzled out.

    At www.you-are-the-ref.com we have been alarmed to hear of many instances of unacceptable treatment of match officials. These appear to be most common at the grassroots of the game where referees are most isolated and have the least protection.

    Our website has especially highlighted three shocking cases involving threats and abuse aimed at referees at local level.

    One of the threats was to a former Army officer. He was moved to tell us that he actually felt more vulnerable refereeing for the Norfolk FA than when he had a team around him serving in Afghanistan.

    Meanwhile, we reported on a 17-year-old referee feeling threatened and suffering abuse from the coaches of a junior team. On this one I can report to you that Derbyshire FA acted quickly.

    The third instance is on my own doorstep, in the city where our great game started. It has involved Paul Cooper, the president of Sheffield Referees Association.

    Paul, a guy in his mid-forties and with many years of experience, was shaken by the threats he received during a local Sunday League game.

    These three referees, I know from experience, spend the week preparing and looking forward to playing their part in our great game.

    They have the right to derive pleasure from it and enjoy the challenge of officiating two teams without any physical threat.

    These type of incidents appear once again to be on the increase and, Mr Dyke, I hope that you can find time to read my letter and focus personal efforts on this in the final weeks of your tenure in office.

    Kind regards

    Keith Hackett
    Former FIFA referee