(Montreal) In order to prevent abuse from parents and certain coaches, a minor soccer association in Estrie plans to equip referees with body cameras next season.

The Windsor Amateur Soccer Association reports that most of its referees are between the ages of 14 and 16. They face increasingly virulent comments from parents, according to Martin Tremblay, president of the Association.

He was disgusted to see a referee leave the field crying and saying he had had enough.

“In 2023, several referees told us they were fed up and ready to leave, mainly because of the parents,” he added.

Starting next spring, a referee will wear a body camera during each association game. Martin Tremblay started thinking about recording games in 2022 after the parents of an injured player asked if there was video of what happened to their child on the field.

Although some hockey games are recorded, he says, a soccer field is too big to record everything with fixed cameras. Tremblay hopes body cameras will make parents think twice before hurling insults at other children. “What we hope is that when people realize they are being filmed, they will be calmer or less aggressive towards our young people.

If necessary, the images will be examined by the disciplinary committee of the Association.

Martin Tremblay believes that his association is the first in Quebec to plan to deploy cameras. In Ontario, some soccer referees began wearing cameras in August as part of a pilot project according to Johnny Misley, CEO of Ontario Soccer.

The results of the pilot project won’t be released until next winter, after the collected data is analyzed by researchers at Brock University, but Johnny Misley says evaluators told his organization the cameras were useful. Winter season referees wear cameras and the pilot project will continue next summer for outdoor matches.

The cameras “act as a visual deterrent,” according to Misley, who says referees feel more confident knowing they can record bad behavior. They also indicated that they were physically comfortable with the cameras during matches.

Johnny Misley says two incidents last year highlighted the deteriorating situation: a 16-year-old referee was mobbed by his parents after a match, and in another match a referee was chased by a player adult – who had received a red card – with a machete.

“The fact that we are putting body cameras on referees is a pretty sad reflection of today’s society, but we hope that these visual deterrents will help make people think twice. »