Football: Norwegian FA considers allowing only captains to speak to refs

OSLO (REUTERS) - Crowds of angry players surrounding referees to complain about decisions could soon be a thing of the past in Norway, as the country's football association (NFF) considers a move to allow only team captains to talk to officials.

With Norway's Tippeligaen due to kick off on Friday, the suggestion came from the captains themselves following a meeting called by NFF general secretary Kjetil Siem to find ways to reduce both stoppages and conflicts during games.

"We spoke a lot about how we can strengthen the captain's role, and how it can be clarified even more," Lillestrom captain Frode Kippe told newspaper Verdens Gang.

One move may be to follow in the footsteps of rugby union and make team captains the first point of contact for match officials.

"It may be that only the captain is allowed to talk to the referee, and that the other players talk to the captain. It has been tried in other sports to give the captain a more prominent role," said former Liverpool and Stoke City defender Kippe.

Rune Pedersen, head of referees at the NFF, told Reuters he welcomed the suggestion and that it was now being considered by the association.

"It's hasn't been confirmed yet, but it's a debate we're going to have and it may be tried for some part of the season," he said.

While Pedersen sees the advantages of having a dialogue with captains on the field, there are still some issues to be ironed out around the practicalities.

"We see some benefits from it, but if you allow the captain to be the speaker and he's far away from it (the action) and the referee has to talk to someone else, it would be a little strange.

"Also, if the goalkeeper is the captain and is allowed to speak on behalf of the team, there might be more stoppages in the game, so we have still not settled it."

Pedersen said that Norway was no worse than any other league when it comes to emotions boiling over on the field, and that the intention was to make games more free-flowing by reducing stoppages.

"I think in Norway, as in all other countries, it depends on the occasion, the temperature in the game and if some special things happen.

"But normally I would say that the atmosphere between the referee, the coaches, the media and the players is acceptable."

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