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Sunday, March 3, 2024

Football Australia CEO James Johnson vows to ‘set some examples’ over referee abuse

“It’s not the first time we’ve had to open up investigations, and I don’t want to get into those, but there’s one on foot already [into Rudan’s comments]. And we’ll take a look at the footage of what happened over the weekend and decide whether the threshold’s met to open up another.

“Rest assured it will be looked at very seriously, with objective eyes.”

Football Australia chief executive James Johnson.

Football Australia chief executive James Johnson.Credit: James Brickwood

The APL did not attend Johnson’s press conference on Tuesday morning in Sydney but chair Stephen Conroy released a statement backing FA’s stance and said they were committed to improving the treatment of referees at A-Leagues level.

Rudan has until 9am on Wednesday to respond to a show cause notice issued to him by FA in response to his comments on Kersey, but has said the club will back him all the way.

The Red and Black Bloc held up banners at Sunday’s match, which read: “RUDAN. LEADING BY EXAMPLE. TRUTH SPOKEN.”


Speaking afterwards, Rudan drew comparisons between what he said was the Wanderers’ ongoing battle with the Australian soccer “establishment” and Ange Postecoglou’s exit as Socceroos coach in 2017, and said referees did not face the same level of scrutiny as coaches do for their decisions.

Lederer was the chair of the APL for almost three years and only departed the organisation’s board in December, having overseen the entire period in which roughly $40 million was spent on the digital platform KeepUp, which has been shut down amid mass redundancies at head office.

The Wanderers are not the only club to have fallen foul of FA’s regulations around the treatment of match officials recently. Melbourne City star Tolgay Arslan is currently serving a four-match ban for alleged “offensive, insulting or abusive” language towards referee Shane Skinner, who showed him a straight red card after their 4-2 defeat to Perth Glory had concluded. Last month, Sydney FC’s A-League Women’s coach Ante Juric was banned for one match for committing the same offence.

With the grassroots season about to begin across Australia, Johnson said the actions of players and coaches at the professional level had a flow-on impact. FA loses 40 per cent of registered match officials every year – around 4,200 individuals – and has not grown its base of 11,000 officials since 2011 because of the constant churn.

“We don’t want people leaving the game because we’re the biggest and most inclusive participant sport,” Johnson said. “But on the other hand, there’s a practical issue that we have, which is match officials come in and they go out of the sport because the way they are treated and the way they feel, and we need to prevent that. I think that’s important. And we need to set some examples.”

Watch every match of the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and UEFA Europa Conference League on Stan Sport. All the action streaming ad-free, live and on demand, with select matches in 4K UHD.

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