Former top referee Graham Poll is calling for the men in the middle to be handed three-match bans if they fail to deal effectively with abuse they receive from players.
Poll told BBC Radio 5 Live: "I have a very simple solution - if there is clear abuse on a football field, you say that someone is going to serve a three-match ban.
"It's either going to be the player guilty of the abuse or the referee who doesn't punish him. For the referees it will be their choice, you or them."
Poll is urging a total change in attitude towards officials if there is to be any improvement in the situation.
He stressed: "It's not just referees being strong and the FA backing them, but players not showing disrespect, managers backing the strong referees and media praising referees after asking for a clampdown."