There have been many instances of referee abuse highlighted nationally lately.
However, most of us can tell a story of historic referee abuse, indicating this problem has been embedded in many sports throughout the years. The GAA recognized this and implemented a National Respect the Referee Day last Saturday. Many county finals implemented a gesture of respect between both players and referees in the form of a pre-match handshake in hopes to highlight the problem.
Speaking to Scoreline, Carlow and Palatine referee Paud O’Dwyer, who was a linesman in the recent Al Ireland hurling final, outlined what needs to be done from his perspective;
“Within the association, there have been too many problems over the last few months. It just needs to be highlighted more and more respect needs to be given to the set of officials on duty, as without them we would have no games.”
“If it highlights the problem and gets people talking about it, then we can see an improvement. It has to start back with each club and with the people who appoint mentors, to make sure they have the right people over teams. That instills in the players and the sideline the right type of respect that is required.”
“Also within the clubs, The parents and supporters on the sideline, if they are misbehaving and shouting in abuse, someone from the own clubs need to call them out on it. “
Recently we spoke with Dr. Noel Brick a lecturer in sport and exercise psychology at Ulster University. Dr. Brick’s new study noted how 94.29 percent of 438 referees surveyed have experienced verbal abuse, with an alarming 23.06 percent reporting physical abuse.
Staggering numbers indeed, but what is the root of the problem? Our own Sinead Kehoe, when presenting Full Time on Monday night, suggested whether it was possible that the tolerance of the abuse is the crux of the issue, Paud seem to have agreed, while offering his own insights;
“Absolutely, especially at underage games. When you have young referees, learn their trade. The kids are just going out to enjoy themselves. The problem arises from the sidelines, supporters shouting in, half the time the rules are not known by parents or supporters. He or she are out there doing their best. There needs to be a bit more cop-on, more respect, more tolerance.”
“Up until now, referees have been taking too much abuse, and have been too tolerant. It has to change, otherwise, we will not be getting referees coming through.”
Listen back to the full interview below on Full time: