Fifa to clamp down on players' mobbing of refs

ZURICH • Football's world governing body Fifa has promised to take steps to stop what it called the mobbing of referees during the Confederations Cup in Russia this month, as part of its "play fair" initiative.

Fifa formally launched the initiative jointly with the game's law-making body Ifab (International Football Association Board) on Thursday as part of a strategy "focusing on improving fairness and the image of the game," it said in a statement.

Remonstrating with referees and surrounding match officials to protest against decisions, known as "mobbing", is common in football, along with play-acting, time-wasting and other forms of gamesmanship.

"Referees, players, coaches and fans all agree that improving player behaviour and respect for all participants (and especially match officials), increasing playing time and the game's fairness and attractiveness must be football's main priority," Ifab technical director David Elleray said.

At the same time, Fifa technical director Marco van Basten told a news conference in St Petersburg that mobbing would be one of Fifa's first targets at the Confederations Cup which starts today.

Referees have also been instructed to be more accurate in adding time for major delays such as injuries and substitutions and to prevent more time-wasting, van Basten added.

One of the most common time-wasting tactics used by teams holding a narrow lead is for a player to be substituted and then leave the field slowly, stopping to shake hands with opponents and match officials along the way.

"The 'play fair' initiative is a plan for football," said van Basten. "This strategy aims to promote fairness and integrity, ensure the game is accessible to everyone and optimise the use of technology."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 17, 2017, with the headline 'Fifa to clamp down on players' mobbing of refs'. Subscribe