As we are now only days away from the much-anticipated restart of grassroots football, we felt it necessary to address a significant challenge that our beautiful game faces.
Shockingly, in the 9 weekends between the re-commencement of football on 2nd September 2020 and the pausing of football on 5th November 2020, the following was reported to Kent FA:
- 9 U7-U18 games abandoned due to the alleged poor behaviour of players, spectators and team officials
- 8 Open Aged games abandoned due to the alleged poor behaviour of players, spectators and team officials
- 5 misconduct charges levied of threatening behaviour against Match Officials
- 906 incidences of the following:
- Use of offensive, insulting or abusive language, dissent by word or action (814)
- Improper Conduct against a Match Official - (including abusive language/behaviour) (55)
- Failure to ensure Players and/or Officials and/or Spectators conducted themselves in an orderly fashion (37)
While the vast majority of those involved with our game act in a fair, respectful and positive way week in and week out, sadly there is an increasing number that do not.
This is unacceptable for a game that should be safe, fun and inclusive for players of all ages, abilities and experiences. The Kent Football Association and the 29 affiliated Leagues within the County are jointly concerned by this increase in poor behaviour.
We each carry the responsibility of ensuring our game is an enjoyable place to play, coach and officiate football.
Let us make it clear that your actions will determine the enjoyment of players, spectators and officials around you. Every foul and abusive word, every threatening action and every physical assault damages the experience of every other individual who loves our game.
Match officials, whether they are qualified or volunteering, must be respected. We can assure you that whilst you will not always agree with their decisions, match officials are not your opposition. They look forward to officiating your game as much as you do playing or coaching it. However, due to how many of them are treated by players, spectators and team officials, less are stepping forward to officiate. There will be a direct consequence to your match and our game will slide further from where we want it to be.
Any of the 29 affiliated leagues can offer their clubs the opportunity to exclude a club or team from the league. This is obviously a last resort that the League Officials would like to take, but they do have this authority within the Standard Code of Rules.
Further to this, please never forget that the people that spend many hours organising your games are volunteers. This means they are not paid for what they do. It also means that when they feel their efforts are not appreciated, they may walk away from managing your clubs and leagues.
Therefore, to ensure Kent football is a safe, fun and inclusive place, we have a simple request for players, spectators and team officials:
“Act respectfully to ensure everyone can enjoy our game.”
Signed on behalf of Kent County Football Association