FIFA discussing rule that only captains can talk to referees

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Fifa is discussing whether to allow only captains to speak to referees, says former Netherlands striker and manager Marco van Basten.

It would bring football in line with rugby union, which has strict rules around in-match communication.

Van Basten, Fifa’s chief technical development officer, said there have been talks about how to improve player behaviour and respect for officials.

“There are a lot of players now who are complaining during a game,” he said.

Speaking to the BBC, the former Ajax and AC Milan forward added: “I am sure the behaviour of the players can be better – we are thinking about putting it back in the right direction.”

At the start of this season, English football announced plans to reduce “intolerable behaviour” by issuing red cards to players who confront match officials, use offensive language or make gestures towards them.

Fifa, football’s world governing body, has recently introduced trials of video referees – where the match official can watch a pitch-side replay of key incidents on a small monitor.

It was used in this month’s Club World Cup – and was commended by Fifa president Gianni Infantino.

“This is what we have to do to help the referees,” Van Basten said about the introduction of technology and discussions around changing other rules.

“We try to make a good product – dynamic, exciting, but in the end also honest.

“There’s a lot of emotion in the game and that’s what’s good – but we have to control it also.”

Asked about comparisons with rugby, Van Basten replied: “I think we can learn from every sport and they can learn from us – but we have to confront the problem.”

In rugby, only the captain is allowed to speak directly to the referee. In return, the referee is asked to communicate directly with the captain only.

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