The physical and verbal abuse faced by some referees on the South Coast may place many sporting competitions at risk of closure, according to Football South Coast.
Referees from Football South Coast have blamed the abuse by players, coaches and spectators for placing the positions of referees in jeopardy.
Referee manager for Football South Coast Bobby Mazevski said that referees faced both verbal and physical attacks both during and before and after games.
“It is a sad blight in our game and it is certainly not just in this association,” Mr Mazeveski said.
“If you are someone new to the game or younger, it is going to impact you more than someone who is older and has resilience.
“Without referees there is no game, that is how important referees are to sport.”
Referees have little protection from verbal abuse with some games having just one official and others having zero protections as they walk on and off the field.
Former A-league and Football NSW referee Alex Glasgow said that referees needed to be protected at all costs.
“Of course for jacket officials in actually knowing what they have to do and what is acceptable is a given, but also parents need to know what is acceptable,” Mr Glasgow said.
“Referees need to be supported in being able to stop and abandon matches where appropriate.”
He said parents with little experience in sport, had little knowledge with what referees deal with on game day, or what organisations like Football NSW need to do to get clubs the officials the need.
“Penalties need to be harsher and that is one way that clubs can come to the party and spectators will then start behaving,” Mr Glasgow said.
With new measures like sin bins added into junior refereeing and a zero tolerance policy Mr Glasgow believes the future of the sport maybe secured.