League clamps down on referee abuse
PUBLISHED: 13:21 17 October 2011
AN INCREASE in abuse towards teenage referees in junior league football matches has led to the league warning foul-mouthed parents to shut up or face fines and bans.
The Woodspring Junior Football League, which operates 23 divisions for youngsters aged eight to 16 across the region, reacted after incidents of abuse towards referees had reached an ‘unacceptable’ level according to a statement released by the league.
Many of the referees officiating at league games across North Somerset and Sedgemoor are as young as 14 themselves, yet are often subjected to foul-mouthed tirades from the parents of children playing in matches.
Clubs whose coaches are found to have abused referees, or individual spectators can be reported to the Somerset Football Association (FA), and could face hefty fines or suspensions from matches.
In the statement, the league has urged people at matches to follow the following two rules so as not to behave like ‘mindless individuals’.
It reads: “First, if you want to shout abuse at the referee, keep your mouth shut and count to ten.
“Second, if you want to shout abuse after this, walk away from the pitch quietly until you have calmed down.”
League chairman John Major said: “Some of the incidents which have been reported to us are currently being looked over by the Somerset FA, and sanctions may come from their findings.
“We have had incidents where parents have subjected referees trying to officiate matches with foul-mouthed abuse in front of their own children, and this is just not acceptable.
“There have also been incidents were there have been assaults on the pitch, with players attacking each other, and individuals there will also face punishment.
“These problems have always existed within the league for years, but for some reason they have increased this season and we need to act now to stamp it out.”
He concluded: “The 14-17-year-old referees are children as well – as a parent, how would you feel if someone was shouting abuse at your son or daughter? Adults should be setting an example to the youngsters.”