Oxfordshire referee develops app to tackle touchline abuse

A red card is shown
Referees will be able to use the phone app to record incidents of abuse that can be investigated after the match

A football referee has developed an app to report abusive touchline behaviour.

Oxfordshire Football Association (OFA) respect champion and referee Andrew Raisbeck is using his experience to address abusive incidents, especially towards young referees.

Data from the app will be used to take action against offenders.

Mr Raisbeck, who has refereed mainly in youth football for 10 years, said it was important to develop referees who "feel confident".

In a questionnaire carried out during the last football season, hundreds of grassroots referees told the BBC they do not feel safe when refereeing and that abuse could come from fans, coaches, and parents.

Mr Raisbeck has developed an app, initially called Refereeing in Oxfordshire "to report any kind of problems they've had with abuse and intolerant behaviour towards them or their decision making".

He added that refereeing should be "a joy" for young referees because without them "there will be no one to do it in the future".

The information will be used by OFA, in partnership with the Oxfordshire Youth Football League (OYFL) to ensure offenders "are re-educated, given the opportunity to explain their behaviour, and the way in which they are going to improve it".

Referees include the date of the incident, their name, the two teams concerned, and can also record a voice note, detailing how they felt and ask for support.

Mr Raisbeck said a report could be done "in about 90 seconds" and would help contribute to "a healthy, happy environment for the referees".

OFA and OYFL will also be able to take disciplinary action against any individual, team or club if required.

Kenny Moore, OYFL chairperson, said he hoped it would "help make a difference on match day, as well as highlighting the positive side of grassroots football".

The app has a prototype ready to be trialled from the start of the 2023-24 football season.

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