Durham FA have launched the armband initiative following feedback from young referees and newly qualified referees to support their role in grassroots football.
The Armbands will signify that referees are under the age of 18 or newly qualified.
The message is that referees are either children and/or learning how to referee and that they should be treated with RESPECT.
It is hoped that the effect will be that people will stop and think before challenging a decision in the same way that you would not beep your horn at a learner driver with their L Plates.
Alex Clark, Referee Development Officer said: “Following a series of referee reports regarding matchday abuse, Durham County FA felt it was necessary to take action and raise awareness of the problems referees encounter on matchdays."
"We have introduced the under 18 yellow armbands and the adult newly qualified red armbands to raise awareness that your matchday referee may be a child, young person or a newly qualified referee who is learning the game. The ethos behind the yellow armbands is that the referee is a child first and a referee second. The armbands serve as a reminder that before you shout or question a referee, they are new in the role and that they are trying their best."
"You wouldn’t shout at someone learning their trade in work or a young person in the street or at school so why should football be any different? In addition to the armbands we have also introduced pocket sized safeguarding cards for our referees and an under 18 referee brochure so that should they have a matchday emergency they have contact details at their finger tips in order to receive immediate support. In order to provide further support we will be rolling out our new matchday developers and mentors for central venues in the 2020-2021 season.”