Players who confront and verbally abuse referees or their assistants face instant dismissal next season after English football’s key stakeholders announced a crackdown on dissent.
Any aggressive or confrontational physical contact with an official will also attract a red card, while referees have been ordered to issue more bookings for similar but less serious offences.
The initiative is an attempt to stamp out scenes such as Jamie Vardy’s angry reaction towards official Jon Moss after the England and Leicester striker was sent off against West Ham in April.
“We and our clubs have been discussing for some time concerns that certain elements of player behaviour are overstepping the mark – the mass confrontations, overt displays of dissent and offensive language,” said Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore.
“That is why the Premier League, EFL [the English Football League] and FA [Football Association] have tasked the Professional Game Match Officials [PGMO] with confronting these type of incidents and issuing appropriate sanctions in the form of cautions and sending offs.”
From August players can expect yellow cards for any of the following: showing visible disrespect to officials; responding aggressively or contesting a decision by running towards officials or confronting them face-to-face; making contact with officials in a non-aggressive way, for example to get their attention; and for surrounding officials.
Managers have also been warned that officials will police conduct in the technical area more rigorously, while officials themselves have been told to remain professionally detached from coaches and players.
“To be clear, this is not designed to be just another ‘Fair Play’ initiative in order to encourage better conduct by players and managers,” said EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey. “This is a clear set of instructions from the football authorities to referees to take action against certain behaviour that we will not tolerate in our matches.”
Vardy received an additional one-game ban for his tirade against Moss last season as Leicester closed in on their historic title triumph.
FA chief executive Martin Glenn added: “Above all, we don’t want youngsters mimicking incidents of dissent or abuse they see on TV in the school playground or the park pitches.”