As Football Australia addresses recent concerns, we remain steadfast in our commitment to the core values of safety, respect, and well-being for all participants in our sport. The incidents involving the conduct towards match officials during A-Leagues’ matches this season underscore a broader challenge within our football community.
James Johnson, CEO of Football Australia, asserts, “Every individual, from grassroots volunteers to professional players and match officials, deserves to participate in football in a safe and respectful environment.”
“The behaviour under scrutiny goes against the values of the sport. Abuse or misconduct towards any of our staff or officials is unacceptable and contradicts the spirit of football. We have a zero-tolerance policy and are dedicated to creating a positive experience for all,” emphasised Johnson.
Highlighting a significant challenge, Football Australia acknowledges the concerning trends among our match officials. “Annually, we lose 40% of our registered match officials, which translates to around 4,200 individuals leaving their roles at all levels of the game. Despite the growing participation in football and the success of our national teams, our base of 11,000 officials has not expanded since 2011,” Johnson revealed.
One of the most significant factors contributing to this loss is the negative experiences officials face – from parents, coaches, fans, and players alike. “This environment is unsustainable and contradicts everything we stand for. Our National Code of Conduct and Ethics, which applies across all levels of the game, is designed to combat such challenges, ensuring that football in Australia is enjoyable and safe for everyone involved,” Johnson added.
Creating a respectful and safe working environment for our officials is not just an obligation but a fundamental aspect of our commitment to football. “We must all work together – across all levels of the game – to improve the culture surrounding football. This includes fostering respect and understanding for the vital role match officials play in our sport,” stated Johnson.
In closing, Johnson calls upon the entire football community: “Let us come together to address these challenges and reinforce a positive culture in our game. Our collective efforts are crucial in ensuring that football continues to be a source of joy for all.”