Australia to punish actions, language against refs

Football Federation Australia has unveiled a zero-tolerance policy on dissent for the 2006-2007 A-League season with players facing automatic red cards for breaches of the new edict. Coaches have also been told to button their lips or face touchline bans and possible fines. The crackdown is a reaction to several incidents last season in which players angrily confronted referees over contentious calls while coaches also came under the microscope for remonstrating theatrically from their designated technical areas.

"It's time to get tough on dissent, it's something we don't want to see in Australia," FFA head of operations Matt Carroll told David Lewis of The Daily Telegraph (Sydney). "The competition should set an example: the last thing we want is players going toe to toe with referees expressing their anger. It's unacceptable behaviour and it will be punished by a straight red card."

Australia's top referee Mark Shield, whose next assignment will be at the World Cup, supports the purge on profanity. "It's good to see the top level of soccer in this country send out a message because dissent is a problem that goes all the way down to the grassroots, and it's prevalent across all codes," he said. "Putting a stop to players rushing at referees and going toe to toe can only be good for protecting the image of the game. There's also an onus on coaches to behave, at least in the technical areas, because a lot of what they say is picked up by TV and can set a very poor example."