Premier League referee Steve Bennett has described managers and players behaving like “ravenous animals smelling blood” amid signs the FA’s Respect campaign is in trouble.
The official claims his he would not have to put up with such abuse in any other job.
Bennett told the Daily Mirror: “Away from the pitch, most of us would never fire such offensive verbal abuse at another human being.
“We would never act like ravenous animals smelling blood or remonstrating with frenzied and vulgar gestures.
“Regrettably, football – the sport acknowledged as the beautiful game – is tarnished when this type of behaviour occurs.
“Today, compounded by a general deterioration in social discipline, abuse of officials across the country results in fewer being prepared to take charge of matches.”
While the Respect campaign was introduced at the start of the season to improve relations between officials and players as well as managers, it has not prevented a number of public confrontations.
Manchester United’s Sir Alex Ferguson last week become the latest manager to be hit with a FA charge after criticising referee Mike Dean following his side’s victory over Hull; while Newcastle’s Joe Kinnear has had to apologise to Martin Atkinson after branding him a “Mickey Mouse referee”.
Bennett added: “Football is a passionate game and we need to understand and differentiate between frustration and acts of blatant abuse. Our man-management skills must be used effectively in tackling players who challenge our authority.
“Heavy punishments will hopefully act as a deterrent and gradually eradicate these individuals from our game.”