A Manchester referee has been thrilled with the response following a strike last weekend in a bid to make football a safer place for referees.
Since starting his career as a referee at the age of 14, Ryan Hampson from Withington, Manchester, says he has been head-butted, spat at and abused on the pitch by players, managers and supporters.
“I’m used to getting that abuse but that’s sad that isn’t it,” says Ryan.
Over the course of the weekend, Ryan and thousands of other referees from all over the country did not turn up to their small county games in a bid to raise awareness to the abuse the guys in the black shirts get.
Since the initial call for the strike back in December, Ryan had a ‘positive’ meeting with representatives from the Manchester FA but a further meeting with bosses at the FA HQ at Wembley, was unproductive.
That prompted Ryan to organise the walkout and he was struck by much public support he received.
— Alan Leighton (@AlanLeighton60) March 4, 2017
He said: “The response has been amazing, from all over the country.
“This has touched a nerve with referees all over the UK and we will keep going until we get the changes they need, because they are getting abused on a regular basis and it’s still not being addressed.
“I think we’ve already sent a really strong message to the people at the top about how serious we are.”
The strike was also calling for referees to be able to wear body cameras during the game to further the attempt to squash abuse they get so they can go to the league, governing bodies and the police with evidence.
Ref Support is a charity whose mission it is to raise the quality, status and benefits of refereeing, for the good of its members and in the interests of the game.
They agree with Ryan that referee abuse is becoming too much to handle.
Martin Cassidy from the charity said: “We are perceived by most as the ‘necessary evil of football, but boy do they miss us when they don’t have an appointed referee.
“I find it astonishing whilst refereeing that I see players and club officials say things to match officials things I wouldn’t even say if I was in the pub.”