The on-pitch behaviour of top-level footballers has become “intolerable” according to a joint statement by the Premier League, English Football League, and Football Association, and punishments will be much more severe from now on.
“English football authorities have noticed over the past four seasons that intolerable behaviour by players and managers in their competitions have reached unacceptable levels in certain areas,” the statement said.
The main problem appears to be footballers and managers answering back to officials — sometimes aggressively — after a decision does not go their way.
Instant yellow cards will now be given if a player:
- Displays any ‘”disrespect” towards an official.
- Confronts an official face to face.
- Runs towards an official to argue about a decision.
- Crowds an official with other teammates.
A player can also expect an instant red card if they:
- Confront an official with bad language.
- Make physical contact in a “confrontational manner.”
The tougher guidelines also stipulate that “match officials will be required to retain professional detachment from players and club staff at all times,” suggesting an end to friendly small-talk during the game.
“Things happen in the heat of the moment during fast and highly competitive football; we still want to see the passion fans enjoy and demand, but players and managers have to be aware there are lines that should not be crossed,” said Richard Scudamore, Executive Chairman, the Premier League.
Southampton’s Victor Wanyama had the dubious honour of having the most red cards in the Premier League last season, with three. Jack Colback scored the most yellow cards, with 11.