Amateur football clubs are cracking down on inappropriate coach conduct with a mandatory caution and send-off policy following a series of violent incidents.
Dylan Dácciaro, Bankstown Football referee said: "One incident in particular escalated [to the point] where I was chased with knives.”
Under the changes implemented by the Bankstown District Amateur Football Association (BDAFA), yellow and red cards will now be issued to team officials who repeatedly disrespect referees.
For clubs, the new policy ensures coaches are held accountable for their behaviour with a three-step procedure in place to deal with misconduct.
Administration Officer at BDAFA Veronica Paine said the association wanted to keep the regulations standard so it was clear to all clubs.
“There was a consistent showing of misbehaviour that was enough to warrant action,” Ms Paine said.
We want to make sure we stamp out all abuse of referees in our association
A week before the changes, an under 18s match was abandoned after an altercation between coaches over a referee decision. Despite attempts by the ground marshall to intervene, the incident escalated onto the pitch involving players from both teams.
However, no cautions were given to either coach.
Under 18s Coach and Senior Vice-President at Bankstown Sports Strikers John Dácciaro said the referee did not caution anyone.
Senior player at Bankstown Sports Strikers Anthony Jaajaa said: “Cautions should have been implemented earlier, they would have been helpful [in controlling the situation].”
This follows an incident during an A-League Semi-Final in April when Melbourne Victory Assistant Coach, Jean-Paul De Marigny and Goalkeeping Coach, Dean Anastasiadis had an on-field altercation with an opposition player. The pair received red cards and were banned for four matches by the Football Federation Australia (FFA).
With abuse towards officials a concern throughout the district, referees now have the authority to issue red cards requiring coaches to stand 300 metres away from the technical area.
The policy provides referees the power to reprimand coaches and prevent a situation from escalating in a similar process to player send-offs.
“We want to make sure we stamp out all abuse of referees in our association,” Ms Paine said.
With BDAFA governing 21 teams across the district, coaches have an important role in shaping player conduct and development.
“Coaches are the leaders of the team and set the example. They don’t just teach you football but how to conduct yourself,” Mr Jaajaa said.
While reaction to the policy has been positive, there is concern that the guidelines are unclear and rely on referee discretion.
“We need clear guidelines of what [conduct] deserves a yellow or red,” Mr Dácciaro Jnr said.
“It doesn’t mention what suspension you serve; yellow cards should be a mandatory week ban,” Mr Dácciaro Snr said.