Over recent seasons there has been a steep increase in the number of reports regarding spectator, team official and player behaviour which falls short of The FA’s Code of Conduct. The poor behaviour often starts with a few individuals but if unchallenged, begins to set a culture of acceptance to this type behaviour. This does not happen at all clubs however where it has occurred, we have seen an increase of discipline and/or safeguarding incidents which could have been easily avoided.
Examples of this type of behaviour are:
• Questioning and criticising decisions on the side-line
• Making derogatory comments about the referee’s/player’s ability
• General hostility towards the referee and opposing team
• General use of abusive language including player to player
• Spectators encroaching on the field of play
• Seeking referee at half-time/full-time to question, criticise or remonstrate decisions/perceived performance
Why is this important to the game?
• People shape their perspective of the game from what they experience, what they hear and what they see.
• Referees are currently experiencing serious situations of poor behaviour on a regular basis.
• We are seeing an increase in match day discipline including yellow and red cards, misconducts and aggravated breaches.
• The danger is that we start to accept this behaviour as the norm- “part of the game”.
What can you do?
As a Club:
• Remind your team officials, players and parents/carers of The FA’s code of conduct. Make sure this document is signed by every member - failure to sign the code must result in that individual being unable to join your club.
• If it goes wrong, make sure you utilise the code of conduct, club rules and complaints procedure to manage incidents.
• Your club must actively support referees both on and off the pitch.
• Advise your team officials that they are also responsible for taking relevant action against their spectators in support of the referee.
• Be vigilant on your club’s social media pages as the club are responsible for comments which appear — remove and do not tolerate any comments which are or may be perceived as; offensive, insulting, abusive, threatening, racist or discriminatory.
• Remember, you have the power to remove individual’s membership from the club and the DCFA will support you in these actions.
As a Team Official
• Make introductions with the referee and opposition team official. If the referee is U18 make sure this is highlighted to your team and spectators. Many U18 referees will wear a yellow armband for easy identification but remember you may come across an U18 referee who does not wear an armband - this is not an excuse for poor behaviour.
• You should create an atmosphere of positivity amongst your players and spectators. Set the right tone and do not tolerate any behaviour which contravenes the code of conduct.
• You cannot question, criticise or make derogatory comments towards the referee. Equally, do not allow players, team officials or spectators to gather around the referee as this will be considered as a misconduct.
• Should the referee ask for support in removing a parent/spectator within your team, you have the responsibility to take the relevant action in support of the referee. If the parent/spectator refuses to leave, the match could be abandoned.
• You cannot use derogatory language towards opposing players at any point, this includes the period where teams traditionally handshake/fist bump at the conclusion of the match.
As a Parent/Carer/Spectator:
• Make sure you read, understand and adhere to The FA’s code of conduct — play your part to positively support your child and your club.
• Raise your awareness — take the Safeguarding Awareness for Parents & Carers course.
• You cannot question, criticise or abuse the referee, players or team officials — please do not attempt to seek out the referee at any point during or after the game.
• You must always remain behind the touchline; entering the field of play could result in a misconduct charge for the club and your removal from matches.
• If you fail to adhere to adhere to the code of conduct on match day, you may be asked to leave the vicinity of the field of play. Failure to do so may result in the game being abandoned.
Please be responsible and supportive on the day to all participants. Whilst we understand that football may be the most important part of the week, please remember it is still a children’s activity.