It's been a long time coming, as we've witnessed the likes of this:
With too many more examples to name.
But, at long last, the Premier League is making a move to cut out the constant abuse and harassment of its match officials, with a new code of conduct which includes yellow cards for a whole host of behaviourial and respect-related misdemeanours.
A statement issued explains that, "The English football authorities have noticed over the past four seasons that intolerable behaviour by players and managers in their competitions have reached unacceptable levels in certain areas. Therefore the Premier League, EFL and The FA have announced a collective undertaking to improve behaviour across the game.
"Their undertaking will task the Professional Game Match Officials (PGMO) to take a stronger position and action towards unacceptable participant conduct. This will focus on behaviour towards match officials, with the aim of reducing disrespectful conduct such as aggressively challenging decisions or running from distance to confront an official. The PGMO will apply the Laws of the Game to manage rigorously the following incidents of bad behaviour with the following sanctions."
These are the new instructions that referees are now under:
Dissent towards match officials
Yellow cards will be issued to players who:
- Show visibly disrespectful behaviour to any match official
- Respond aggressively to decisions
- Confront an official face to face
- Run towards an official to contest a decision
Offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures towards match officials
- Red cardswill be issued to players who confront match officials and use offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures towards them
Physical contact with match officials
- A yellow cardfor physical contact with any match official in a non-aggressive manner (e.g. an inquisitive approach to grab the official’s attention)
- A red cardfor physical contact with match officials in an aggressive or confrontational manner
Surrounding match officials
- A yellow cardfor at least one player when two or more from a team surround a match official
- The FA will continue to sanction teams when they surround match officials
Conduct in the technical area
- The requirements of the Technical Area Code of Conduct will be more rigorously enforced for players and club staff. Additionally, match officials will be required to retain professional detachment from players and club staff at all times
If - and it's still a big if - these rules are applied properly, then the opening weekend of the new season could be an absolute bloodbath of yellow cards. Will any team make it through to the end of the game with 11 men still on the pitch? We'll soon find out, but if that's what it takes to get a bit more respect back in the game then we're all for it.