Do new rules need to be brought in to improve discipline on the pitch?

Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel

Disrespect and abuse towards referees and the ill discipline of some players are some of the biggest problems in modern football.

Despite criticism of the way referees are treated and the way players behave on the pitch amongst people like the media, and even MPs, these problems still seem to remain in the game.

So, with the number of incidents of misconduct towards referees and ill discipline of players on the pitch, does the FA need to bring in more rules to tackle this behaviour?

Stories about the behaviour of players on the pitch have been huge talking points in football since October 2011.

In that month, the huge saga involving Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra started, when Evra accused the Liverpool striker of making racist remarks towards him. Later that year, of course, Suarez was found guilty of racial abuse towards Evra, banned for eight matches and given a fine of £40,000.

However, despite the furore over this incident, later in the same month, John Terry was accused of racial abuse towards Anton Ferdinand during a now infamous game between Chelsea and QPR. However, many criticised the FA for taking until last month, nearly a year after the actual event, to give their verdict, where John Terry was also found guilty, but banned for four matches and given a fine of £220,000. Could it be said that it would have given a stronger message on player behaviour if he had been given the same punishment as Luis Suarez and he had had tough action taken against him quicker?

Additionally, did the way the FA handled the racism cases really work when looking at the different dramas that have arisen, with refused handshakes in matches between the involved parties?

And events in recent weeks have also given evidence that maybe not enough is being done to tackle bad behaviour by players. Last week, referee Mark Clattenburg was cleared of directing racial abuse towards Mikel John Obi at the game between Chelsea and Manchester United last month. Many seem to disagree with how Chelsea have acted towards the referee, with Alan Leighton, the national secretary of the referees union Prospect stating Clattenburg should be compensated by Chelsea. He also believes he should be given an apology by the club, which others agree with.

Though Mikel John Obi has been charged for misconduct, does more need to be done to prevent players acting badly towards referees? Though the media have in the past campaigned for more respect towards referees, it seems that referees are still crowded by players and subject to much abuse.

Maybe players should be given longer bans for incidents like the ones involving John Terry and Luis Suarez. While fines are a good idea, is that really going to make a difference to hugely rich footballers?

Additionally, would it also be a good idea to punish players for crowding referees and disrespecting them? If they faced huge punishments for this kind of behaviour, it may put players off abusing the referee. It could also be an idea to punish them more for incidents with each other. While they can be given cards, maybe they should be given longer bans, which may decrease the disrespect they can show to each other, and may also make clubs more proactive to talk their players out of behaving badly.

Many stories have given evidence that a huge problem of disrespect towards referees and bad behaviour on the pitch exists in the game. However, maybe more punishments could be given to try and lower the number of incidents that happen.


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