Worcestershire FA is providing this update as a result of a series of unacceptable incidents taking place in local grassroots football. Incidents have taken place across youth, adult, male and female matches and are not limited to a certain category.
PLEASE NOTE: Some of the content below contains expletives, inappropriate language and discriminatory comments.
Abusive behaviour within football towards anyone is totally unacceptable. Whilst Worcestershire FA can only affect change locally, rest assured that we are operating with a zero tolerance policy.
As recently as last weekend, we had referees verbally abused by players, coaches and spectators due to perceived poor decision making. To be clear: no matter how good, bad or indifferent you think a referees’ performance is, this does not give you any right whatsoever to approach a referee or make abusive comments. A referee will make mistakes, just like the player who misplaces a pass or misses an open goal.
With this in mind, there are teams currently under investigation that have their upcoming fixtures postponed due to the severity of their alleged actions.
Worcestershire FA would like to place on record our sincere thanks to our Leagues who have supported the above action. As well as our Leagues, our Safeguarding and Football Development Teams will also be made aware of these incidents to work with the Clubs to improve behaviour.
The following are real examples of incidents that we have recently dealt with. The sanctions issued are determined by The Football Association (FA) in line with Disciplinary Regulations. Any match-based suspensions are from All Football until the team that the offenders were participating for have completed the relevant number of matches.
1 – A substitute called a qualified assistant referee a “f***ing m***ole” and a “bald sp****c”. The player was charged with Improper Conduct aggravated on grounds of Discrimination. The player received a 7 match suspension, £90 fine and is required to complete an education course if they ever wish to return to football.
2 – A player used abusive langauge to another player, calling them a “p**i”. The player was charged with Improper Conduct aggravated on grounds of Discrimination. The player received a 7 match suspension, £75 fine and is required to complete an education course if they ever wish to return to football.
3 – An adult spectator shouted at a youth referee – a child – calling them a “sp****c”, telling the referee to “find his balls” and aggressively screamed several times regarding decisions. A witness stated “the Match Official was put under immense pressure and said to me he felt scared to give cards”. The spectator received a 302 day suspension (including ground ban), meaning they cannot attend any match to watch their child play during this period, £145 fine and is required to complete an education course if they ever wish to return to football. This individual has also been referred to FA Safeguarding.
4 – A player shouted at a referee that they would “drag me to the car park”. The player was charged with Improper Conduct including Threatening/Abusive behaviour. The player received a 119 day suspension, £75 fine and is required to complete an education course if they ever wish to return to football.
5 – Two youth team coaches were abusive towards a Match Official, making comments such as “f***ing disgraceful”, “you’re a joke”, “you’ve ruined the game” and approached the match official at half time to make derogatory comments related to their performance. The coaches both received a 3 match suspension (including a ground ban), £50 fine and were severely warned as to their future conduct. The two coaches involved in this incident have also been referred to The FA Safeguarding Team.
6 – An adult player went head to head with a referee, which was determined as an Assault – the player was charged with Assault on a Match Official. The player received a 7.5 year suspension from All Football, £100 fine and is required to complete an education course if they ever wish to return to football.
7 – A youth match was abandoned following a mass brawl between players and spectators of both clubs, who then continued the confrontation in the car park after the match. As well as red cards being issued to players, the clubs were charged with failing to ensure that participants conducted themselves in an orderly fashion. The Clubs were fined £100 each and severely warned as to their future conduct, as well as a referral to the Designated Safeguarding Officer for further education.
These are just 7 examples – sadly there are many more that we could have used.
We also remind everyone that our referees aged under 18 – who are children – wear bright yellow #SeeTheSocks and this means that they are safeguarded in the same way as youth players.
For far too long, inappropriate behaviour has taken place within grassroots football with very little accountability. Worcestershire FA promises you that where sufficient evidence exists we will take action. Together with everyone who behaves positively to improve the game, we will enhance the experience for all participants.