File photo of referee Joe McQuillan. James Crombie/INPHO

GAA looking at NBA model to punish verbal abuse at referees from sidelines during games

‘That’s something we might look at in terms of implementing a rule and changing the overall culture,’ said president Larry McCarthy.

THE GAA MAY look into applying in-game penalties against teams if coaches are abusive to referees.

President Larry McCarthy hinted that the Association may look to at NBA’s model of awarding technical fouls against coaches who are verbally abusive towards match officials. 

“Basketball have a very good way of doing things,” said McCarthy. “So if the coach says something to a referee, all of a sudden the coach gets penalised, the team get penalised with free throws against them and they get loose possession of the ball.

“Is there something in there that we could do so that if you start verbally abusing a referee, he stops and gives you a warning. The next time it might be a 21 yard free or a penalty.

“Not only are you going to get a card for doing what you did, but the team is going to be punished as well. That’s something we might look at in terms of implementing a rule and changing the overall culture.”

It follows a spate of incidents of violence towards referees at club games across the country in recent weeks. 

The Association’s bid to change the culture around abusing match officials kicked off yesterday with the launch of a campaign to respect referees. 

A Referee Respect Day will take place on the weekend of 22/23 October to coincide with a number of county finals that weekend. 

“Very important because it is kickstarting a campaign to try and change the culture of the organisation,” said GAA president Larry McCarthy.

“Obviously what has happened in the last couple of weeks is absolutely and utterly unacceptable.

“The respect for referees and working with referees and recruiting of referees has been part of the strategic plan since we launched it last week and this will give it an impetus to start.”

McCarthy accepted that the GAA’s disciplinary system, where players often see bans overturned on technicalities, needs to be looked at. 

“Disciplinary committees are very important, that the right punishment is handed down and then it is held, it stands up,” said the Cork native.

“We need at one level to help referees to write reports which will stand up to scrutiny, but there is a whole clutter of things that we need to do in terms of supporting referees.

“It’s not just stopping the abuse on the sideline.

“We do have to strengthen up our processes and procedures to make sure that they feel supported.

“Donal alluded to something I would never have thought of in respect to the referees when they get to a ground.

“How they are treated once they get in. It’s a package.

“But in terms of verbal abuse towards referees it’s a cultural thing.

“I think the procedures could be strengthened, could be tightened up a little bit.

“We should look at some of the rules as well, particularly when they are applied at a local level, to a certain extent they are well applied at a national level, but when it gets to a local level the systems are different.”

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