The Football Association will trial the use of referee bodycams across four selected adult grassroots football leagues in England, starting this weekend in Middlesbrough and then progressing to three other leagues before the end of the 2022-23 season.
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."
Essex County FA Chief Executive Brendan Walshe spoke positively about the trial on behalf of the Essex FA. "Referees are an integral part of grassroots football and we are delighted to be one of the County FA's who are partaking in this trial. We are welcoming of this campaign and are looking forward to supporting The FA and the chosen referees during this trial. We are hoping to be a part of something that has a positive effect on the behaviour to referees and allows them to continue enjoying the game."
If you have any refereeing queries or questions, please contact our Referee Department and they will be happy to advise.