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Grassroots referees wear body cameras in the 2023 test set

A trial allowing referees to wear body cameras in adult grassroots sport in England is now set to begin in the first half of next year.

The purpose of the process is to act as a deterrent against physical and verbal abuse of officials, which has become a concern in grassroots sport.

A Lancashire referee was attacked last week, with local media reporting the referee suffered a broken nose, four broken ribs, a dislocated shoulder, broken collarbone, concussion and whiplash.

The Football Association have confirmed they are investigating the Lancashire incident. Last season, 1.1 “serious cases” were reported per 1,000 games, including attacks on match officials, physical contact or attempted physical contact with match officials and incidents of discrimination, according to FA data.

The FA understand the body camera trial can begin in the first half of 2023, but the PA news agency understands details on privacy and security will be finalized in their discussions with the game’s lawmaker, the International Football Association Board (IFAB ), yet to be completed.

Issues such as obtaining permission from participants to be filmed, who will have access to the footage and any implications for protection are still being worked out.

An FA spokesman said: “The FA have acted on feedback from the refereeing community and asked permission from the International Football Association Board [IFAB] during the AGM in June 2022 to test bodycams on adult grassroots referees in England.

“The aim of the world’s first trial of its kind would be to investigate whether the use of bodycams improves participant behavior while providing additional security for match officials in adult grassroots sports.

“We will monitor the behavioral impact of the study and, if successful, seek to roll it out nationally and internationally. We are finalizing the details of the study with the IFAB and more information will be shared in due course.”

It is unlikely that the FA will have any data related to the study ready to present at the next IFAB AGM, due to be held in London next March; more likely it will be later in the year at IFAB meetings such as B. Technical and Football Advisory Committee Meeting or Annual Business Meeting.

PA understand the IFAB will be determined to ensure the cameras are only used at grassroots level, even if the process proves successful in improving behavior and safety.

The playmakers don’t want the cameras in top-flight football to be used by broadcasters to give a different view of what’s happening on the pitch.

The FA last month launched their ‘enough is enough’ campaign to address behavior at grassroots level, stating any unacceptable behavior will lead to action.

The FA Refereeing Department and District Associations will offer support to all victims of physical assault, while regulations on offenses against match officials have been tightened and tightened since the start of last season.

The guidance for Disciplinary Committees has been changed to encourage them to move to the higher end of the sanction for physical contact or attempted physical contact, increasing the high end of the current range from 182 days to two years.

The recommended entry point for disciplinary committees is now 182 days and anyone serving a suspension cannot return until they have completed a training course.

The aggravated assault sanctioning guidelines provide for a period of ineligibility of between five and ten years, subject to aggravating and mitigating circumstances.

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