The launch of the Respect Program in 2008 was intended to improve the working environment for referees at all levels of the game. However, eight years since the launch, this article has identified significant issues with the organization and management of the campaign and the verbal and physical abuse to which referees are subjected. Findings are concerned with the experiences of 2056 referees across England, the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey, who responded to an online questionnaire, and given the emergent themes from the data are linked to a figurational framework through location within Norbert Elias’s Civilizing Process. Findings identify a disenfranchised workforce, an uneven distribution of power and wider issues connected with the very structure of the game itself within England. The article concludes with specific recommendations designed to review and reinvigorate the Respect Program and as a consequence the working conditions for referees.
- association football
- civilizing process