This is from UEFA.com.. it's kinda long... sorry the link just wouldn't work for this article... Tuesday 13 August 2002 Unless you are particularly thick-skinned, no-one enjoys being the target of abuse and vilification on a regular basis. Pity, then, the poor referees, many of whom find themselves constantly singled out for verbal attacks of the nastiest kind. Continual threat In all walks of football life - from village matches to the FIFA World Cup - the 'men in black' face the continual threat of either being confronted by a group of jostling players, all of whom have strong opinions about the penalty just awarded against their team, or of having their ears pinned back by a volley of foul and aggressive invective. Full authority Referees have full authority to act against abuse by players. The Laws of the Game state that a player who shows dissent by word or action may be cautioned, while offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures will see the offender being consigned to an early bath. TV influence At the elite level, in particular, the stakes are so high that it takes the slightest debatable refereeing decision to light the fuse trailing from certain players who are already hyped-up beyond normal bounds. All too often, their outbreaks of anger are conveyed to the world by TV cameras, and from several angles – thereby acting as a thoroughly negative influence on impressionable youngsters. Taking action Inevitably, certain countries are starting to take action against the verbal abusing of referees. In England, for example, it was recently announced that wilful or excessive foul and abusive language towards referees and their assistants will now be punished by a red card, while coaches who take their touchline antics over the top will be reported to the referee by the fourth official, who will then be entitled to send the coach in question away from the bench (or out of the technical area) and into the stand. Image makeover A concerted drive is under way in England to give the game an image makeover. As the new season begins, players and coaches are being given sufficient advance warning about verbal overreaction, by way of a campaign involving the Professional Footballers’ Association and League Managers' Association, in which appropriate posters are being displayed in dressing-rooms around the country. Limits of tolerance Referees have always been the target of backchat – but many say that the limits of tolerance are being reached. Italy's Pierluigi Collina, widely acknowledged to be the best referee in the world, says there is a thin line between disappointed protest and angry abuse. Match situation "It's not easy to make the distinction," says Collina, who took charge of this summer's FIFA World Cup final. "It can depend on the match situation, and the relationship between the players and the referee in a particular match. Sometimes, if you have the right feeling for the match that you are refereeing, you can understand why a player might react in a certain way, and so you will not be too hard on him. But on other occasions, a referee must not even accept the smallest reaction." Players’ scapegoat Sometimes, the referee does not even have to make a disputed decision for the fireworks to start. "Players who are out of form, or who are having a bad time in a match, sometimes moan or protest to a referee just to get their frustration out of their system," explains Swiss referee Urs Meier, who officiated in May's UEFA Champions League final. "The referee then simply becomes a scapegoat for a player's mood." Recruitment worry Michel Vautrot, France's National Refereeing Technical Director, feels that in his country at least, the drive to recruit referees at the grassroots is encountering problems because people who might wish to take up refereeing are being deterred by the threat of abuse from players. Bad publicity "We are losing potential referees, because the way that players are perceived as behaving towards them does not provide good publicity as far as recruitment is concerned," says Vautrot, a former top-level referee himself. Common sense Europe's refereeing circles will be closely monitoring how England's referees – and the players – adapt to the new criteria on abuse. The football authorities emphasise that the crackdown is not aimed at producing over-zealous match officials who ruin games. English referees are still being asked to use their common sense and experience in each case. Clear message Nevertheless, the message being transmitted is clear, and should already apply as a common principle throughout the game in any part of the world – if you think that treating the referee as a verbal punch-bag is clever, then you ought to be heading for the dressing room earlier than you might wish.