The Football Association will trial the use of referee bodycams across four selected adult grassroots football leagues in England before the end of the 2022-23 season.
The trial will start this weekend in Middlesbrough, with trials set to take place in Liverpool Old Boys Amateur League (LOBAL) soon after.
Referees for the LOBAL matches will have their training on Monday 27th January with a view to using them the following weekend (4th/5th March).
The new bodycam trial, which is the first of its kind in the world, will take place in England following permission that was granted by the International Football Association Board [IFAB], who oversee the laws of the game.
The aim of the trial is to explore whether the use of bodycams improves participant behaviour and respect towards referees in the grassroots game.
The FA has partnered with Reveal Media, who produce the bodycams, to help introduce the technology for selected grassroots referees in four adult grassroots partner leagues across Middlesbrough, Liverpool, Worcester and Essex.
Within the first three months of the trial, we will see approximately 100 grassroots referees wear the equipment whilst officiating adult grassroots football matches. All referees taking part will receive the support, education and training required to use the bodycams effectively in approved fixtures. The footage can also be accepted as evidence in a disciplinary hearing if required.
As part of the trial, The FA will be tracking and evaluating the impact of the bodycams on behaviour across the participating leagues and, if it’s successful, may look to roll it out across additional adult grassroots football leagues in England during the 2023-24 season.
Mark Bullingham, FA Chief Executive, said: "Referees are the lifeblood of our game and we thank the IFAB for their support in allowing us to undertake this new grassroots bodycam trial, the first of its nature globally. We have listened to feedback from the referee community, and we hope this trial will have a positive impact on the behaviour towards them – so that ultimately they can enjoy officiating in a safe and inclusive environment."
Daniel Meeson, FA Head of Refereeing - Technical & Development, said: "We care passionately about the welfare and support for our referees in England, and our national game simply could not operate without them. Across all levels of our game, we have some of the best referees in the world – many of whom have dedicated their lives to the refereeing – and they deserve our utmost respect and thanks. So we are excited to explore how bodycams can be used in grassroots refereeing so that we can better understand how they could help affect the behaviour of players and coaches towards them."
Benjamin Speedie, Liverpool County FA Referee Development Officer (RDO), commented: “We are delighted to be involved in this trial and will be working very closely with LOBAL. The aim of this trial is to improve participant behaviour and respect towards referee, whilst also providing a level of protection and safety to referees within the adult grassroots game. LOBAL have developed a fantastic culture within their league and this will only reinforce their values. The trial period will end after the 23/24 season and the impact, results and feedback will be monitored closely by The FA.
Greg McLean, LOBAL Secretary, said: "We are extremely pleased to have been chosen to play a part in this brand-new FA Pilot scheme on Referee Bodycams. As a League, we have worked extremely hard over the past few years to create a culture and environment within our league based upon the foundation of Respect. We are keen to do all we can as a league to ensure our Referees feel protected and being a part of this trial that could have a huge positive impact on the global game is a real privilege for LOBAL. We look forward to working with Liverpool FA, The FA and Reveal Media throughout the trial period."
Steve Steward, LOBAL Referee Support Officer, and experienced LCFA Referee, added: "As a well co-ordinated and supportive football family of Teams, Club Officials, Volunteers and Referees, we are certain this exciting initiative will play a huge role in developing participation and enjoyment levels for everyone. Our League Values of Respect, Sportsmanship, Communication, Integrity and Humour - established jointly by the clubs and match officials, will be enhanced by the effective and efficient use of bodycams. The vast majority of football participants want enjoyment and safety as their priorities, achieved through responsible behaviour. This initiative will increase those joint aims."