Brighton boss Graham Potter believes referees will only be treated with the respect they deserve if society undergoes a cultural change.
Premier League official Mike Dean was recently forced to stand down after receiving online death threats, while referee Darren Drysdale was this week involved in an ugly confrontation with Ipswich midfielder Alan Judge.
Potter, whose side bid to extend their unbeaten Premier League run against rivals Crystal Palace on Monday, insists more stringent punishments for players and managers who abuse referees would make little difference.
“I think that’s almost like rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic in a way,” Potter said. “It’s a bigger thing than that.
“It’s a cultural problem, it’s not just players, it’s everybody. I think we disrespect the referee a little bit too much in football.
“We don’t appreciate how difficult the job is. We think it’s OK to speak to them the way we do and it’s not correct.
“It’s a challenge and a massive part of a problem in football that we haven’t managed to get a grip on if we’re honest.”
Dean returned to refereeing on Saturday when taking charge of Burnley’s home game against West Brom.
The 52-year-old and his family had received death threats on social media after his decisions to send off West Ham’s Tomas Soucek and Southampton’s Jan Bednarek in separate recent matches had both been rescinded.
Drysdale has been charged with improper conduct by the Football Association after squaring up to Judge on Tuesday night during Ipswich’s goalless draw with Northampton.
The 50-year-old Lincolnshire official, who has since apologised, leaned his head into Judge after the midfielder’s appeal for a penalty had been turned down.
“You’ll see professional players speaking to referees in a way that isn’t acceptable and you’ll also see people clamouring for the correct decision all the time and that’s why we’ve got VAR,” Potter said.
“It’s something the game has to address in terms of how we see the referee and the respect that they deserve and need to be able to do their job.
“So probably from the highest (authority), FIFA or whoever organises the game, have to be a little bit stronger with that and hopefully it will make some difference.
“But it’s so linked to society as well. It’s deep in our culture and something that’s almost accepted as part of the game, but it shouldn’t be.”