Soccer

Sin bins can tackle dissent among players, referees’ welfare charity boss claims

Details of trials to test sin bins at higher levels of football were set for publication on Friday but have been delayed.

Sin bins are the answer to poor player behaviour, the boss of a referee welfare charity has said
Sin bins are the answer to poor player behaviour, the boss of a referee welfare charity has said Sin bins are the answer to poor player behaviour, the boss of a referee welfare charity has said (Mike Egerton/PA)

Sin bins are the answer to tackling dissent among players, the boss of a referees’ welfare charity has said.

Sin bins have been deemed a success in the grassroots game and details of a trial to test them at higher levels of football for dissent as well as tactical fouls were set to be published by the International Football Association Board, which sets football’s laws, last Friday.

Publication was indefinitely delayed at the last minute however, with sources citing the need for further discussion to take place at next month’s IFAB annual general meeting. The delay followed reports last Thursday evening which highlighted that blue cards would be used to send players to the sin bin.

Ange Postecoglou was critical of the idea of sin bins in professional football
Ange Postecoglou was critical of the idea of sin bins in professional football Ange Postecoglou was critical of the idea of sin bins in professional football (Gareth Fuller/PA)

The idea of trialling sin bins was heavily criticised by Tottenham and Liverpool bosses Ange Postecoglou and Jurgen Klopp among others last week.

However, Martin Cassidy, the chief executive of the Ref Support charity, believes the IFAB deserves credit for trying to address the problem, and hit out at the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) and the League Managers’ Association (LMA) for failing to condemn bad behaviour from their members.

“I think the sin bin is the answer. Absolutely. There’s a proven track record,” he told the PA news agency, pointing out that Football Association trials at grassroots level in 2017-18 and 2018-19 saw a 38 per cent reduction in dissent.

“You can’t throw stones at the IFAB and the FA for bringing in measures to address poor behaviour in the game,” Cassidy added.

“The main people they are trying to control are the players and the managers, when the PFA and the LMA only seem to want to talk about what makes the experience better for their members, and not the match official.

“The hypocrisy by those two organisations is breathtaking, when they put their name to that charter (Love Football, Protect The Game) at the start of the season.

“What have they done publicly to condemn the behaviour of their members over the years? The answer is zero. They’re sitting on the sidelines, metaphorically and physically, doing absolutely nothing.”

The PFA and the LMA have been approached for comment.

Cassidy also said that blue cards were “the best way to communicate” that a player had been temporarily dismissed at higher levels of football, with yellow cards used at grassroots level.

Protocols for trials allowing referees to create captain-only zones and cooling-off areas in the event of mass confrontations were also set to be published on Friday.

Cassidy also welcomed those measures, adding: “I’m all for it. When Aleksandar Mitrovic pushed Chris Kavanagh, I said we should have a two-metre zone around an official.

Aleksandar Mitrovic was sent off after he pushed referee Chris Kavanagh in an FA Cup tie last season
Aleksandar Mitrovic was sent off after he pushed referee Chris Kavanagh in an FA Cup tie last season Aleksandar Mitrovic was sent off after he pushed referee Chris Kavanagh in an FA Cup tie last season (Martin Rickett/PA)

“There is no reason to go within two metres of a match official other than to shake their hand at the beginning and the end of the game. We should create boundaries with officials.

“This problem has been going on for decades and never been addressed. Just have an agreement where you don’t go within a certain place, and let’s say two metres.

“We’re used to two metres with Covid – why would you not want that in football? Then everybody knows anyone who comes in will be sanctioned.”