FA remain committed to Respect campaign

September 23, 2008

The Football Association remain totally committed to their 'Respect' initiative despite the high-profile campaign taking a battering over the weekend.

Outgoing chief executive Brian Barwick launched Respect earlier this year, claiming it was his intention to get players to behave better and work with match officials rather than constantly argue and harangue them.

In addition, Barwick wanted only team captains to speak with the referee following contentious decisions.

However, while the scheme has been widely praised, major flashpoints at Stamford Bridge and Vicarage Road over the weekend saw angry exchanges, leading to some pundits suggesting Respect was dead in the water.

The FA vehemently dispute this, feeling it is far too early to make a judgement.

Indeed, while the incidents themselves did not make for pretty viewing, it could be argued Respect is actually working by taking the edge off the reactions of those involved.

Certainly Sir Alex Ferguson did not hit Mike Riley with the kind of verbal volley that might have been expected, while Watford's players were restrained considering they had 'conceded' a goal that clearly went a yard wide of the post.

"This is a long-term commitment across the game to improve behaviour,'' said an FA spokesman. "There is a determination that it won't be blown off course by individual incidents that are bound to occur in a passionate game like football.

"What we are trying to do is change behaviour and attitudes over time. We are not expecting change overnight.

"However, for the long-term health and benefit of the game, it is important the Respect message gets through at all levels.''

The FA are confident Respect will slowly get through, realising improved standards of behaviour at the higher levels of the game will seep down the pyramid and it is hoped eventually have a direct impact in stemming the loss of referees from the game.