Ontario Soccer to examine providing match officials with body cameras

Problems of abuse of power by match officials have prompted a provincial sports agency to review the provision of body cameras for match officials.

Ontario Soccer confirmed it was reviewing logistics around the possibility, with chief executive Johnny Misley saying there was an “official crisis of the game” in the province due to fewer officials, mainly due to players’ abuse of referees, coaches and spectators .

“This has always been a concern for us, especially after the pandemic, and it’s only exacerbated the problem,” Missley said, adding that Ontario Soccer’s board of directors had “approved a 2-3 year Plan to fix this, we’re not talking about fixing it the way we’ve done it before, we’re looking at more serious ways to help us change the culture.”

Misley confirmed that body cameras are already on the table and are one of many factors being considered, but he understands the potential issues surrounding cost and logistics.

“This year we had an incident of criminal physical violence involving adult-level players. We wanted to be proactive in a zero-tolerance way rather than the educational route we’ve taken over the years without much success,” Misley added.

Currently, Ontario Soccer has approximately 5,000 registered referees, a drop of nearly 50 per cent compared to 2019.

A trial in English grassroots football to allow referees to wear body cameras is due to start next year, following similar concerns about misuse of officials, including an incident in October that injured a Lancashire referee , including broken nose, broken collarbone and concussion.

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