The West Australian Football Commission (WAFC) is pleased to announce the launch of a new evidence-based behaviour change campaign to ‘Stop Umpire Abuse’.
The campaign comes following research commissioned by the WAFC at the end of the 2021 season.
The research made some key findings:
- More than 80% of the football community considered Umpire abuse a serious issue.
- Over half of the WA football community reported witnessing Umpire abuse at 50% or more of the games they attended.
- More than 8 in 10 umpires said they were verbally abused this season.
- The WA football community identified a wide range of offenders – Parents (51%), Players (48%), ‘Lone wolf’ spectators (48%) and other spectators (47%) as the worst offenders for Umpire abuse.
- Abuse is directly impacting our ability to retain umpires in our game.
The campaign will run across digital, audio, video and social media with the aim of educating players, coaches and spectators about the harmful disrespect umpires face in their work.
Former AFL umpire and WAFL and WAFLW Umpiring Operations Manager, Dean Margetts, said he is thrilled with the campaign.
“I am really hopeful that the faces and voices behind the messaging will strike a chord with the people who go out of their way to make an umpire’s day miserable,” Margetts said.
Umpires are normal people adding value to the game we all love,”
“It’s their sport, their hobby, their casual job, we don’t go and abuse the 15-year-old kid at the fast-food shop, then why have we normalised it at football grounds?” he questioned.
“We need our umpires to come back week after week, year after year so they can keep mastering their craft and stay a part of the game they are passionate about too. We are all responsible for making this happen.”
WAFC Chief Executive Officer, Michael Roberts said this is a historical move for football in Western Australia.
“This is the first time an Australian sport has taken an active and evidence-based approach to counter the abuse umpires face in their jobs,” Roberts said.
“Their role is to officiate the game and abuse of any kind should not be an accepted part of the job,”
“Their role is incredibly tough both physically and mentally and the reality is, we don’t have a game without them.”
Lucy, an umpire of four years, said she has experienced all kinds of verbal abuse and hopes the campaign creates a shift in umpire treatment.
“The abuse we receive is just not on. It’s hard to retain umpires because of it and we need people to experience for themselves to feel what it’s like to be on the receiving end of that abuse,” Lucy said.
“They don’t see what goes into being an umpire. The laps upon laps to keep up our fitness so we can make good calls, the reviewing of games and all the finer details and effort we put in,”
“When you’re in the heat of the moment, we have a split second to make a call and if you make a wrong call you immediately hear that feedback from players and spectators and that can be really disheartening and my confidence levels just plummet. It affects your mentality, confidence and overall desire to continue turning up.”
The campaign launches Wednesday 3 August and aims to ensure our umpires return for season 2023.
Check out the website here for more information: https://www.wafootball.com.au/stopumpireabuse