Ontario soccer referees to be outfitted with body cameras to combat increasing abuse

Ontario Soccer. Representational image by Jeffrey Lin on unsplash

Toronto/CMEDIA: In an effort to stop aggressive abuse at soccer games across Ontario, the referees of that province will reportedly be outfitted with body cameras this summer.

“Last year we had a 16-year-old female official assaulted in a parking lot by angry parents…We had a player in an adult recreation game last year thrown out of the game only to go to their car and pull a machete out of their trunk and chase the referee around the field,” Johnny Misley, president of Ontario Soccer was reported saying on Monday.

In response, the Ontario Soccer Association is launching a pilot project to hand some of their referees body cameras, designed to capture any abuse, physical or mental, officials are subject to while on the job.

“Human behaviour has changed and we’ve seen an increase in aggressive behavior toward referees in matches,” said Misley.

Misley reportedly said the pilot project will likely be launched on July 1 and run through the indoor season with a report out next year.

“We’re taking a zero tolerance approach,” he said.

Ontario’s local associations are taking this move following a pilot project already underway in the U.K. to deal with the exact same issue.

With reportedly an increase in both the number and the severity of such incidents since coming back from COVID, there had reportedly been a decrease in the number of registered referees.

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