The English Football Association recently announced that all its 28,000 referees will undergo the same kind of behaviour management training that teachers in the UK currently go through in order to learn how to deal with misbehaving children.
In a move that has been questioned openly by the Premier League the FA will begin budgeting for “group behavioural management classes”, classes that are more often associated with the training teachers go through.
On Wednesday morning a Premier League spokesperson said, “There is a certain drama in the game that fans have come to expect. If you get referees trying to manage the behaviour, the dramatic flare of some players, then you are harming the game. We will see fewer free kicks, penalties and cards. This will cause grief for the top flight clubs who depend on their players winning decisions in crucial areas.”
The FA however says that the course is necessary because of the amount of cheating and diving in modern football, “Players go down under the lightest of touches; when they do go down and don’t get the decision they want they act out. We are simply providing our officials with the skills needed to control such petulant players.”
When asked if they had considered any alternatives the FA spokesman, perhaps jocularly, said, “Yes. We did initially look into forcing clubs to send their problem players to group therapy sessions and designing some kind of course which would see them become accustomed to the physical demands of football. However, there were some concerns voiced by the top Premier League managers so we dropped the idea.”
The courses will begin in the interim between the end of this season and the beginning of the next and will cost the FA an estimated £3.5 million. UEFA, the European football association, have stated that they will contribute to some of the cost and will monitor progress in the English leagues, “We will cover some of the costs as part of our partnership with the FA and other football associations in Europe. We too are concerned that players have lost some physical and moral qualities; spending as much time as they do writhing on the ground only to be quickly up on their feet after the decision is given in their favour.”
Opinion is split in the stands but one man, sat with his children at a recent Fulham home game, which saw them dominate their West London rivals, QPR, 6 – 0 said, “I feel ashamed when I bring my children to watch what should be a game played by gentleman and the players are spending half the time falling over or holding their allegedly sore ankle. It’s a joke.”