The FA has rebooted its Respect Campaign this season to protect grassroots referees in England but many continue to suffer both mental and physical abuse. There are some horrifying stories but hope remains: as of 2019-20 season a new sin-bin system will be rolled out across all grassroots leagues for anybody caught abusing a referee, with other initiatives also in the pipeline.
Michael Butler meets four referees, as well as the FA, to find out just how bad the abuse has got, what is being done about it and if that is enough for the men and women in the middle.
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