NEW rules to curb bad behaviour from adults at junior soccer matches are on the way.
The FA, as part of its respect campaign, is trying to encourage codes of conduct at children’s games.
And an incident in a Huddersfield league game has been included in the catalogue of abuse that soccer chiefs are investigating.
Horror stories abound about parents’ disgraceful behaviour on the sidelines, ranging from screaming and shouting abuse at both young players and referees, to physical violence.
Games all over the country have been abandoned because of parents’ behaviour.
Surrey County FA, for example, sent letters to more than 2,000 youth teams this season asking them to clamp down on parents’ violent conduct after a series of touchline incidents led to matches being abandoned.
Paul Cooper, a children’s football coach who co-founded the Give Us Back Our Game, campaign in a bid to “put children first” at matches, says the problem lies in the fact that children’s football is no longer about the youngsters who play it but the adults who watch and run it.
He added: “The adults have completely taken over and children are playing to adult rules and for adult values. Those adult values mean that normally mild-mannered mums can be on the sidelines screaming. That’s what it does to parents.”
As in adult games, the referees get a lot of the abuse, and the linesmen don’t escape either.
In this area police cautioned a woman of 40 and her 16-year-old son was reprimanded after a linesman ended up in hospital with head injuries after an attack at an under-13 Hartshead v Shelley match at Hartshead, part of the Huddersfield-based RCD Junior League.
Mr Cooper said: “If parents shout and scream from the sidelines it has a negative effect on children’s behaviour and the way they play, and the game isn’t fun for them.”
His organisation has met the FA as part of the current FA Respect campaign, which aims to address poor behaviour from players to referees and tackle pushy parents on the sidelines.
Suggestions include roping off the area where parents stand at matches and introducing a standard code of conduct for them.
An FA spokesman says: “They’re commonsense measures. These matches are so emotive for the parents; they all have aspirations that their kid could be the next Beckham and things spill over.”
Jim White, author of You’ll Win Nothing With Kids: Fathers, Sons And Football, sums up the whole problem by saying: “In six years coaching my son’s football team I have come to the following conclusion; short of excess intake of alcohol there is nothing that alters the behaviour of adults for the worse as much as youth football.”