The English football authorities have introduced a series of measures to help improve the behaviour of players, managers, and coaches across the professional, National League system and grassroots game, as well as addressing the issue of football tragedy abuse.
New policies, procedures, and regulations came into force at the start of the 2023/24 season, to address unacceptable conduct on the pitch, on the sidelines and in the stands, to ensure that the actions of the minority do not spoil the game for all. This builds on the work carried out throughout last season to combat dangerous and illegal fan behaviour, supported by the ‘Love Football. Protect the Game’ football-wide campaign.
The FA, Premier League, EFL, Barclays Women’s Super League, Barclays Women’s Championship, National League System (Steps 1-4) and referees’ governing body PGMOL have collectively launched a new Participant Charter.
The charter which was developed in partnership with the League Managers Association [LMA] and Professional Footballers' Association [PFA] will see stronger measures for players, managers, coaches, support staff and club officials to adhere to on a matchday.
Under the new approach, match officials will be empowered to take more robust action alongside a consistent application of the existing measures when participant behaviour falls below expected standards, and The FA will apply stronger supplementary disciplinary action.
Captains are expected to take responsibility for their teammates encouraging them to play fairly and show respect towards the match officials and their decisions.
Where match officials are confronted, surrounded or their personal space invaded by multiple players, at least one player will receive a card. The FA could also take further action against the club.
New measures will include:
- A new technical area code of conduct requires managers, coaches, and other club staff members to behave in a responsible manner.
- Increased financial penalties for serious and repeat offenders.
- Academy scholars to undertake refereeing courses to improve players’ education in officiating.
For the grassroots game, The FA has announced new regulations from the start of the 2023/24 season, including point deductions for teams whose players or coaches commit repeated offences of serious misconduct.
The trial of bodycams for referees will continue into the 2023/24 season, while a new code of conduct will be introduced to set behavioural expectations and embed usage.
To challenge the totally unacceptable presence of football tragedy abuse, for season 2023/24, regulation changes and tough new measures have been introduced which will see people who are found to have committed offences face stadium bans and potential criminal prosecution.
The issue is focused on offensive chanting, gesturing and displaying offensive messages based on football-related tragedies, which causes significant distress to the victims’ families, survivors and affected club supporters. Football authorities, supporter groups and law enforcement organisations, including the police and CPS, have united to crack down on fans who participate in this vile form of abuse.
In addition to bans and criminal sanctions, a range of in-stadium, in-classroom and online resources will be rolled out under the ‘Love Football Protect the Game’ banner, to educate adults and children alike about the hurt tragedy chanting causes. Ground regulations have also been updated to incorporate references to tragedy chanting.
The game will also continue its efforts to combat dangerous, illegal and unwelcome behaviour off the pitch, be it in the stands or online. Last season a host of new measures were introduced by authorities which saw enhanced sanctions applied for people identified entering the pitch, using pyros, taking drugs to games, throwing objects or for discriminatory abuse.