The Football Association will trial the use of referee bodycams across four selected adult grassroots football leagues in England, starting this weekend in Middlesbrough and then progressing to three other leagues before the end of the 2022-23 season.
The new bodycam trial, which is the first of its kind in the world, will take place in England following permission that was granted by the International Football Association Board [IFAB], who oversee the laws of the game.
The aim of the trial is to explore whether the use of bodycams improves participant behaviour and respect towards referees in the grassroots game.
The FA has partnered with Reveal Media, who produce the bodycams, to help introduce the technology for selected grassroots referees in four adult grassroots partner leagues across Middlesbrough, Liverpool, Worcester and Essex.
Within the first three months of the trial, approximately 100 grassroots referees wear the equipment whilst officiating adult grassroots football matches. All referees taking part will receive the support, education and training required to use the bodycams effectively in approved fixtures. The footage can also be accepted as evidence in a disciplinary hearing if required.
As part of the trial, The FA will be tracking and evaluating the impact of the bodycams on behaviour across the participating leagues and, if it’s successful, may look to roll it out across additional adult grassroots football leagues in England during the 2023-24 season.
Mark Bullingham, FA Chief Executive, said: "Referees are the lifeblood of our game and we thank the IFAB for their support in allowing us to undertake this new grassroots bodycam trial, the first of its nature globally. We have listened to feedback from the referee community, and we hope this trial will have a positive impact on the behaviour towards them – so that ultimately they can enjoy officiating in a safe and inclusive environment."
Daniel Meeson, FA Head of Refereeing - Technical & Development, said: "We care passionately about the welfare and support for our referees in England, and our national game simply could not operate without them. Across all levels of our game, we have some of the best referees in the world – many of whom have dedicated their lives to the refereeing – and they deserve our utmost respect and thanks. So we are excited to explore how bodycams can be used in grassroots refereeing so that we can better understand how they could help affect the behaviour of players and coaches towards them."
Sophie, North Riding FA referee, said: “I feel very lucky to take part in this trial. I think it’s going to increase my skills and awareness on how we communicate with players – not only how we conduct ourselves on a matchday, but also being able to take charge of the game with a bit more authority on some occasions.”
Mohammed, North Riding FA referee, said: “It’s a defining moment in grassroots football. For me, prevention is better than a cure. We don’t want to be reporting misbehaviour about misconduct from players and fining them. We’d rather it didn’t happen.”