Premier League referee to wear ‘RefCam’ for first time in Crystal Palace vs Man Utd

Jarred Gillett wearing a RefCam head camera before refereeing Monday night's Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Manchester United

A Premier League referee will wear a video camera for the first time as Crystal Palace play Manchester United ahead of a one-off documentary on officials.

Jarred Gillett will use a head-mounted ‘RefCam’ to offer “further insight and education into the demands of officiating”, the top tier said. Footage will not be broadcast live but it will be available later in the year when in-house Premier League Productions (PLP) releases a special programme.

Proposals for bodycams for referees to reduce dissent from players have become a regular discussion point for football lawmakers in recent years. In February, the Football Association launched a pilot – the first of its kind anywhere in the world – in four grass-roots leagues, after permission was granted by the game’s lawmaking body, the International Football Association Board.

Referee Rob Jones also wore a camera mounted on his chest for a pre-season friendly between Chelsea and Brighton last July. Elsewhere, a head-mounted RefCam was worn by Daniel Schlager during a 2-2 draw between Frankfurt and Wolfsburg in February in Germany.

Moves to record exchanges between referees and players have been debated for decades. David Elleray wore a microphone whilst officiating Millwall against Arsenal in the late 1980s in a bid to improve awareness of the pressures referees face.

“The technology comprises a head-mounted device which is integrated into the usual referee communications system,” the Premier League said in a new announcement.

“Its one-off use for educational purposes has been approved by The IFAB, the Premier League, PGMOL and both clubs. We would like to thank Crystal Palace and Manchester United for their support with this project.”

The FA, meanwhile, has made a conscious effort to crack down on abuse directed at referees and match officials this season, with new rules brought in that sees players booked for surrounding the referee, among others.

Post-match comments from players, managers or officials could receive a charge or warning if they “imply bias, attack their integrity, are personally offensive, prolonged, or particularly unreasonable”.

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