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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 October 2007, 20:20 GMT 21:20 UK
Punish top players first - Poll
Graham Poll
Poll (right) says player behaviour influences those at grass-roots level
Former Premier League referee Graham Poll says the Football Association's decision to tackle bad behaviour from the grass-roots upwards is mistaken.

Poll agrees action must be taken but says a stronger message will come from harsher punishments for top players.

"It should be from the top down not the bottom up," he told Radio 5live.

"Kids idolise stars they see on Match of the Day, they emulate their skills, but they also emulate their actions, which are often not so great."

The FA plans to launch a pilot scheme that is part of a wider programme aimed at improving the behaviour of players, parents and spectators.

Phil Harlow - BBC Sport

"It's not going to change the world but I am determined to make an impact - and I'll do it," FA chief executive Brian Barwick told 5live.

The three main components of the scheme to be launched in nine regions from next January are:

  • Only the team captain will be allowed to speak with the referee.

  • Roped-off areas will be introduced at junior matches so 'over-indulgent or abusive' parents cannot direct their bile at the referee.

  • All players and club officials will be forced to sign a 'memorandum of understanding' noting the standards of behaviour that will be expected.

Barwick added: "These things are done better through discussion rather than a big stick but we want to stop the situation getting out of hand.

"There is a lot of emotion and passion in the game but you only have to look at a sport like rugby to see there seems to be a certain level of respect for the officials.

"That sets a marker down for our game because the treatment of referees is a really serious issue and something we have to deal with."

In my experience, over many years of coaching, the players coming through are less disciplined every year

England coach Steve McClaren

Barwick's stance has been backed by England coach Steve McClaren, who was once forced to resign as president of a local club because of the behaviour of parents.

"In my opinion, this thing has to start at the bottom," he said.

"In my experience, over many years of coaching, the players coming through are less disciplined every year and instilling the discipline required into them is getting harder and harder."

McClaren said a certain amount of dissent was inevitable in the heat of the moment, but insisted that players should be disciplined enough to know where to draw the line.

"You can't take passion away. We understand there are moments when passion boils over," he added.

"Discipline is the key word for me and my football team. If you don't have discipline in your team, then you don't have control and if you're not in control it can cost you a game.

"It should be one thing that you can control. It's one thing we work on every day."

Meanwhile, Barwick says he has been "banging down the doors" of football's world and European governing bodies Fifa and Uefa to ensure referees are given extra help with crucial decisions.

Brian Barwick
Barwick says he is determined to make his mark on English football

"Goal-line technology will ultimately be delivered and the great part of it will be because of the work the FA has done," he said.

Tests are currently being undertaken at Reading's academy on the Hawk-Eye system that has proved so effective in cricket and tennis.

The results will be evaluated by the Premier League and Fifa, but Barwick is determined to come up with a way of determining beyond all doubt whether a ball has crossed the goal-line or not.

"I would say we are market leaders in trying to do it and now the Premier League are taking it on in terms of experimentation," added Barwick.

"I absolutely buy the fact that when the ball crosses the line, these days it's absolutely imperative that we know it, the referee knows it and he's not the guy with a red face because everybody else at home knows.

"So technology, yes, the right technology, yes, goal-line technology, absolutely yes."

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