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Safeguarding for Referees

Changes to the safeguarding requirements for registered Referees, 2020-2021 

August 2020 

This paper is an update to the previous communication: ‘Changes to the safeguarding requirements for referee registration 2020-21, April 2020’ . 

The previous paper was shared with CFAs in April 2020 and clarified The FA’s changes to its safeguarding provision and requirements for registered Referees, for the season 2020-2021 only.  


COVID 19, as you are aware, has impacted on our ability to implement certain FA safeguarding requirements for registered Referees and we apologise for not being in a position to give clear guidance before now.

The project team at The FA which oversees the Safeguarding Operating Standard for County FAs, across all operations,  has continually reviewed the risks, mitigations and opportunities to ensure that safeguards in the game are managed as effectively as possible. Whilst FA safeguarding policies and regulations remain the same, we are now updating you on the safeguarding requirements for registered Referees.

DBS Checks

Anyone 16 years and over undertaking regulated activity with U18s, must have an accepted Enhanced FA DBS with a check of the Children’s Barring List before they commence their role in football. This includes Referees.

DBS checks requiring renewal between March 1 2020 and October 1 2020 were extended by The FA  for one year from their original DBS expiry date. These extended checks continue to be valid and there is no requirement for another DBS check for these people until the one-year extension period is due to expire. Please note there may be odd occasions where a new check is required- for example by Case Management as part of a safeguarding enquiry. 

Guidance on safer verification during COVID-19 can be found here

Safeguarding education season 2020-2021 

Safeguarding Children Workshops

CFAs can choose to deliver face to face Safeguarding Children Workshops (SCW) following the guidance that FA Education (FAE) has provided - but this is optional. These workshops may run from 8 September – 31 December 2020. 

Counties not delivering workshops should read the information below carefully.

Digital learning  

Between 31 December 2020 and March 2021 there will be no face to face delivery and a digital learning offer will replace the current Safeguarding Children Workshop from March 2021. Details of this will be shared by FAL later this season.

From August 17 2020 a new, free online course called ‘Safeguarding For All’ will be available as an interim measure for the season 2020-2021. The FA Refereeing department were involved in this course development. All that’s needed is a FAN and password and it can be accessed on any internet enabled device. The course can be accessed if you click here. The full address is:

What does this mean for the management of Referees registration? 

The ‘CRM system plug in’ that prevents County FAs changing a Referees level without an in-date Safeguarding Children Workshop or Introduction to Safeguarding online course, will be switched off until registration season 2021-2022. 

The table below shows the education portfolio available to respective referees for the season 2020-2021. CFAs are asked to promote the education options which are available.

Referees MUST have an in-date appropriate safeguarding qualification on their record in order to register for season 2021-2022. FAE will provide full information on these learning pathways later this season.

Who?  Season 2020/21
Under 16-years-old new Referees  These referees should take the new online ‘Safeguarding For All’ course which is available from August 17 2020.

It is essential 14 -15-year-old new Referees take this learning, which is free and accessible online

Those referees currently enrolled on the ‘Introduction to Safeguarding’ will receive an email from FAE advising them they have until 31 August 2020 to complete the course. The ‘Introduction to Safeguarding’ course will be hidden from new enrolments from  August 18 2020.
16 years and over new Referees
Safeguarding Children Workshop (if run in your County.)

As an interim measure for CFAs not running workshops, please promote and drive completion of the free online ‘Safeguarding For All’ course, which is available from August 17 2020.

It is essential that all Referees aged 16-years-old and over take this learning if there are no face-to-face workshops. 

Upon completion of ‘Safeguarding For All’ course the Referee level can be updated, if required, by the CFA on CRM.
Referees with an existing face to face SCW over three years old 
Free online Safeguarding Recertification course
Please continue to promote this course click here to access this course. A FAN and password is required. The full course address is:
Referees who have only taken The Guide, the old Child Protection workshop or the online learning ‘Introduction to Safeguarding’ and who can’t access the Safeguarding Recertification  As an interim measure, please promote and drive completion of the free online ‘Safeguarding For All’ course.

Summary of Actions by The FA / CFAs  

I. Referees over the age of 16 or over undertaking regulated activity with U18s, must have an accepted Enhanced FA DBS ( the FA DBS includes a check of the Children’s Barring List) before they commence their role in football. 

II. County FAs, statutory agencies and others will continue to refer any concerns raised to The FA in the usual timely manner, and these will be managed in line with our safeguarding policy and regulations. 

III. The FA will communicate the new safeguarding learning pathways in detail later this season and all Referees must have the required safeguarding learning to register for the season 2021-2022.

IV. The Refereeing department will update all Referees in the next ‘six weekly’ communication reminding them of their safeguarding responsibilities and requirements. This will include that they must not officiate youth games without having an in-date DBS check and signposting them to relevant safeguarding information. It will also remind Referees who are under 18 that they are still children  and remind them and when and how to report concerns about their own safety.

V. Separately, all CFAs will continue to ensure that all U18 Referee accounts have a linked parent account.

Safeguarding and Refereeing Departments

August 2020



Harry Woodley
Football Safeguarding & Welfare Manager
Mobile: 07525237348
Email: or

Kate Milton
Football Safeguarding & Welfare Officer
Mobile: 07938489199
Email: or

(Available Monday to Friday, 9:00am – 5:00pm)