Football coaches: Australia hopes to tame behaviour with new card system

Recently, we wrote about the English Football Association trialling new rules for grassroots football. The idea behind the new rules is to help player development and improve player enjoyment.

Australia’s football governing body has also adopted new rules. However, these rules are to protect match officials. It is also a way to control the behaviour of top-flight football coaches in the A-League like never before.

What’s the problem?

For some time, football coaches in the A-League have been disrespecting match officials. Football Federation Australia hopes to combat the trend with a yellow and red card system for managers and coaches only. While it is common for players to receive a yellow or red card, it may not always be something a manager is shown. Despite being disrespectful to referees, it is often only extreme circumstances that managers are sent to the stands or locker room.

“It will help fans and viewers better understand the issues that match officials face on a weekly basis and help promote respect towards them,” said A-League representative Greg O’Rourke.

But it isn’t just for top-flight managers the rules are aimed at. The FFA hopes the new rules will trickle down to the grassroots level, and change many of the problems seen in youth football when it comes to disrespecting match officials.

“Importantly it will send a strong message throughout the game at grassroots level that poor behaviour towards match officials and opposition team officials is unacceptable and carries consequences,” O’Rourke added.

Yellow card offences

Yellow card offences will include:

  • Throwing a water bottle to show dissent,
  • sarcastic clapping of match officials,
  • persistent excursions beyond the bounds of the technical area, or
  • “gesturing or acting in a provocative, derisory or inflammatory way”.

Red card offences

Red card offence will include:

  • Throwing a water bottle in a “dangerous or aggressive manner”,
  • spitting,
  • the use of insulting or abusive language,
  • or entering the other team’s technical area in a “confrontational manner”.

Referees in the A-League can also simply warn football coaches prior to producing a card. A warning can be given for:

  • persistent questioning of refereeing decisions,
  • minor/low level disagreement with a decision,
  • failing to cooperate with a match official,
  • entering the field of play in a respectful/non-confrontational manner, and
  • leaving the technical area in a non-confrontational manner.

It will take time to see if the new system works. If it does, there could be a major shift in the way grassroots officials are treated.


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