Campaign aimed at reducing ref rage

The Gaelic Match Officials Association (GMOA) have released details of their own respect campaign for referees, linesmen and umpires.

Entitled ‘Referees are human too’, the drive is aimed at creating awareness of the plight of GAA match officials.

The unofficial body’s chairman is former Antrim referee Ray Matthews, who quit after he was assaulted during a club game in the county last year.

Coming in the wake of Gaelic football columnist and analyst Bernard Flynn’s heavy criticism of Martin Higgins and Rory Hickey over the weekend, the document’s release is timely.

In it, the reasons for the campaign are outlined. It reads: “A familiar pattern has emerged in the championship and the year as a whole, as we have seen and heard of many instances in the past number of weeks where the match referee, the linesmen, the umpires and the fourth official are subjected to enormous levels of abuse which cannot be considered normal by anyone’s standards. The majority of the abuse is a behaviour which has been engrained from a young age, a decision goes against our team and our anger is directed at the referee. Many times, however, the abuse takes on a sinister tone and it’s important to remember that match officials are amateurs who are carrying out their duties out of a love for the games.”

It continues: “No individual has the right to lay hands on any match official or umpire, there is no excuse, it’s not acceptable. We also remind adults that they set an example for all children at our games, if they (children) see adults directing verbal abuse at a match official they think this is acceptable behaviour, and the cycle continues.”

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