Letter from BFUA on Umpire Abuse

We wish to express our grave concerns at the alarming increase in abuse that our members have been subjected to during the 2010 season, particularly in recent weeks.

The BFUA as a Board have received numerous reports from our members detailing personal, slanderous and defamatory attacks on their character, appearance or in some cases the umpire’s full-time profession.

This has led to a number of our Senior Umpires indicating that they are unlikely to continue with our Association next season.

As you would be well aware, the Ballarat Football Umpires Association has committed significant resources to retaining and recruiting umpires with this season’s numbers the best in recent memory.

We are therefore unwilling to stand by and see this hard work undone by the actions of a number of clubs and individuals who refuse to identify that shortages in umpire numbers are a ‘football problem’ not an ‘umpiring problem’.

Perhaps most disappointing is that this systematic abuse is coming despite a recent statistical analysis of our on-field performances revealing that our decision making is the best it has been for the last three years.

In writing this letter we do recognise the efforts of the Ballarat Football League and the Central Highlands Football League in trying to improve conditions for umpires through the Coaches Meeting at the start of the season and by including umpiring junior games as part of the penalty for those found guilty of abusive language.

The bottom line is however that a growing percentage of the Ballarat football community is not getting the message and we as an Umpires Board can no longer standby and accept it.  

After careful consideration by our Board and in consultation with our Senior Field Umpires Coach we have therefore decided to take the following action:

·        From this weekend onwards (24th & 25th July), every act of on-field abuse, demonstrative behaviour or disputing of a decision will incur an automatic 50 metre penalty. This is not a new rule. However our members have shown a fair degree of leniency in the past in the interests of the spirit of football. This weekend there will be no such liberal interpretation and if that means that there are twenty or thirty 50 metre penalties paid in a game than we are prepared to do so in the long term interest of providing a healthy work place environment for our members. 

·        Umpires will be asked to take note of spectator abuse. Any club (in the opinion of our board) that goes over and above what we deem is reasonable will face the possibility of not having BFUA umpires at their next home fixture in all grades. We appreciate that this may disadvantage the opposing club at this fixture but feel our actions are justified for the long term good of umpiring in this region.

We ask that this letter be forwarded on to each of your member clubs (both at Senior and Junior level) and in particular that all coaches are aware of our stance.

To ensure that everyone (players and spectators) are aware of our new zero-tolerance approach on umpiring abuse, we intend outlining these new measures that we have put in place to the media later this week.

We are open to any suggestions that you may have to help curb what we see as a growing problem in this region.

Yours Sincerely,

Mark Gray

General Manager

On behalf of BFUA Board & Members


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