The Football Association of Wales has identified that during the 2022/23 Season a total of 6,455 red and yellow Cards were given across the top eight leagues in Welsh football. Over 20% of the yellow and red cards awarded involved avoidable incidents or actions that have resulted in these clubs paying a collective of over £13,700 in disciplinary fees across the course of the season.
These avoidable incidents include dissent by word or action, using offensive, insulting, or abusive language and/or gestures, often directed towards match officials, violent conduct in addition to physical or aggressive behaviour towards an opposing player, substitute, team official, match official, spectator or any other person.
To reinforce the importance of mutual respect on and off the pitch and encourage a reduction in on-field misconduct, an ‘FAW Fair Play’ week is taking place from Friday 22nd to Sunday 1st of October for all National League clubs.
The ‘FAW Fair Play’ Code promotes the important message of ‘Fair Play’ throughout Welsh football, which aims to inspire Players, Clubs, Match Officials and Supporters to maintain good on-field discipline by abiding by the Laws of the Game, in addition to respecting all members of the Welsh Football Family. Clubs across Wales will be supporting the initiative by displaying ‘FAW Fair Play’ pennants at their games over the campaign week.
To further encourage respectful behaviour that aligns to the ‘FAW Fair Play’ Code, the FAW incentivises and rewards clubs who are taking a proactive role in reducing on-field misconduct. To achieve this, each month, the FAW publishes National Leagues Fair Play Tables and the Clubs who top their respective Fair Play table at the end of the season are awarded a Fair Play Award and a prize of £1000 that is available to be spent on improving their Club.
Previous winners of the Award have invested the money to upgrade their dressing rooms, new equipment such as balls, bibs, kit in addition to improving their pitch.
The FAW’s Disciplinary Manager, Margaret Barnett said: “The FAW’s Fair Play Campaign Week is important to further promote the Fair Play message and to remind everyone involved in football, whether that is the players, match officials, coaches or supporters, the importance of being respectful to one another. We really don’t want to be collecting these avoidable misconduct fees. We would much rather see these fees stay in the pockets of the players and clubs through them demonstrating Fair Play.
“At the FAW we are incredibly grateful to our Clubs and individuals for supporting this campaign from previous seasons and last season’s worthy winners of the FAW Fair Play Award.
“We are however unfortunately seeing high numbers of avoidable yellow and red cards across our games and the cost this can have to Clubs over a season can be really detrimental, that’s why fostering greater mutual respect across Welsh football and developing unique initiatives to tackle this is more pivotal than ever.”
The FAW’s reintroduction of the ‘FAW Fair Play’ campaign follows recent findings on the experiences of match officials which revealed 1 in 4 Referees have experienced physical abuse.
To further support the initiative of reducing dissent towards Match Officials the FAW are holding a number of Fair Play Club-Referee Workshops. The workshops hope to enhance the relationships between Coaches, Players and Match Officials through engaging sessions that require all participants to view games and make decisions from the perspective of a match official, in addition to receiving updates and an increased awareness on the Laws of the Game to support participants’ understanding. The FAW has ensured these sessions will be delivered from the beginning of October and are mandatory for all players and managers across Tiers 1 of the women’s and men’s game in Wales.
The ‘FAW Fair Play’ initiative is an element of the FAW’s wider ‘PAWB Values’ campaign which highlights the FAW’s core values of “Respect, Excellence and Family” where the FAW are committed to ensuring football is for everyone, where everyone can feel respected and supported across the game in Wales.
You can find more information at faw.cymru/fair-play