Stop. Think. Support.
Green Shirt Referees



While we all want every referee to be treated with respect - a green shirt denotes that this is a new referee, who is being supported and needs to be treated with care. Positive support is to be encouraged.


The Green Shirt Respect Campaign has the following objectives:

  • To recruit and develop 20 new referees per Federation
  • Address the issue of dissent and abuse directed at new referees
  • Provide sideline support and mentors to new referees
  • Improve the image of the game
  • Reduce/remove cost as a barrier to becoming a referee
  • To provde more competent referees for more games


Potential and new referees are a highly impressionable group and sensitive to all forms of dissent. For some who choose not to continue refereeing, it is because of one or two incidents where they faced mistreatment from players, coaches or spectators. People who were drawn to refereeing as a way to give back to the game and continue their involvement are pushed away by this abuse.

A Green shirt was chosen because:

  • Green is associated with ‘Go’
  • Green has also a link with growth and life
  • Green is a prominent NZFF branding colour
  • The fluoro provides a contrast to many regular green strips e.g. Madhatters, Bay Olympic, Marist, Green Island


  • New referees will take the entry level course – Level 1.
  • Referees who register will be provided with a Green Shirt branded with NZF, NZFF + RESPECT as well as their initial apparel, whistle and cards.
  • They will have a coach/support person for 3 of their first 5 matches
  • The coach/support person will also monitor sideline behaviour
  • It will tie in with the RefLive campaign, which is an App that provides information to Referee Managers on the behaviour of teams, coaches and spectators and the referee’s enjoyment of the game. It aims to improve retention and monitor wellbeing by allowing governing bodies to track key data and insights for competitions, leagues and teams. Further information can be found on their website at
  • Enhanced disciplinary procedures will support the Green Shirted Referees e.g. cases of abuse against Green Shirt Referees should be forwarded to Federation Disciplinary Committees as a matter of course with a recommendation to consider a punishment greater than the minimum given the proposed NZF media campaign about this and the program’s emphasis. 


Federations will be allocated resources equally from the money using it for the support of their referees as they take their first steps in the referee pathway. A set of referee apparel (Green Shirt, black shorts and socks, cards, whistle) will be provided free for up to 20 new referees per Federation.

The Federations will lead the accreditation courses, appoint the referees, organise both the mentor program and the support person in their first games.

NZF Brand and Commercial Partnerships will promote via social media and a Respect week campaign in early 2021.

The NZFRC have set this Green Shirt Campaign as their number one priority and have allocated money from the NZF Referee Development Budget to double the NZFF investment; so, 20,000 will be available across the participating Federations. In addition, AUD5000 has already been invested into the RefLive Project, which is being expanded by a similar amount for 2021 as part of our retention and wellbeing strategy.


The Green Shirt Respect Campaign benefits football in New Zealand by providing more qualified, neutral referees for games. This means teams won’t have to supply a referee and can concentrate on playing while more teams and players can enjoy their sport.

The referee is the NZF and Federation representative at a match and shows the support both have for the game.

We are aiming for 20 persons per Federation, primarily in the Youth Football Framework (13-19) supported to 140.00 pp; a target of 25% being female. This would comprise 10 referees from the NZFF funding and another 10 from NZF. With 20 new referees per Federation this would benefit:

  • 440 players on 1 game per Saturday
  • 9,600 players over a 20 game season
  • 67,000 players over the country