Managers from NIFL Premiership clubs have welcomed the introduction of the ‘Catch Yourself On’ campaign.
The initiative from the Irish Football Association is aimed at tackling abusive behaviour towards match officials in football in Northern Ireland.
Managers and officials from Northern Ireland’s top flight clubs were invited to the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park to hear all about the campaign and to watch promotional videos.
At the event Linfield manager David Healy (pictured, below) admitted he has been guilty in the past of lambasting officials – and should have caught himself on before doing so.
He further pointed out: “We need to all work together. I am pleased that this (campaign) is out there. I am sure that from top to bottom, certainly myself as manager of Linfield Football Club and the other managers and officials that were here today, we will take it into consideration and hopefully make our game better.”
Cliftonville boss Jim Magilton said: “I think it’s a catchy phrase and one that resonates with all of us. It’s a tough job (refereeing). We all respect these guys. It’s one of the hardest jobs in the game now obviously. We have to reflect on that and reflect on our behaviour. It’s important that we send out the right message.”
Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter (below) felt it was a positive campaign and applauded the appointment of former Premier League referee Mike Riley as the Irish FA’s new head of refereeing.
He pointed out: “Referees are a huge necessity in our game. Without them we don’t have a game. They deserve and need our respect. First and foremost, we have to afford them that for every single game.”
Irish FA President Conrad Kirkwood said the campaign was all about encouraging mutual respect between players, club officials and referees.
He said referees are an important part of the game and more are needed.
And he added: “Nobody gets better by shouting at them. It’s important that we give them the space to make the decisions and if we have an issue (with a decision) that we do that in a constructive way.”
NIFL chief executive Gerard Lawlor said he liked the catchphrase for the campaign as it’s part of everyday language in Northern Ireland.
“I think people will identify with it. I think for me the message is that we really need referees. We cannot have football matches without referees, so we need to treat them properly, we need to treat them respectfully and we need to channel our emotions in different ways than just having a culture of shouting at referees,” he added.
‘Catch Yourself On’ will encourage players, coaches, club officials and supporters, as well as parents, to think about their behaviour towards referees to eradicate abuse and protect the safety and wellbeing of match officials.
For more information on the campaign visit: www.irishfa.com/CYO