It is really sad and disappointing that we have to send this note out to the members of the BBDFL, but its now become a critical issue not just for our league, but for leagues nationally and that is the toxic atmosphere at games from the pre-match build up, with emails and social media posts of a toxic nature, to the game day itself, the abuse to opposition and sadly to the referees who become the brunt of much of this toxic behaviour in addition to the post-match verbal’s and aggression which has continued long after the game has concluded.
Where is this behaviour coming from? The ADULTS! The ones who should know better, the ones who should be setting the example!
Which age groups? Its across the board and isn’t just the boys on a Saturday, its also toxic for several girls’ teams on a Sunday
The toxic behaviour hasn’t even stopped when we have allocated a junior referee to a game as we have had a few who have been referred to as “f***ing cheats” and we have had players, coaches and referees threatened with violence and we even had a grown man who was a coach, shout to one of our junior referees who he had sent him off from the touchline “I am going to f***ing t**t him after” and this came shortly after the teams had held a minutes silence for Bryan Clark, a referee in our league who sadly passed away recently
It beggars’ belief how low some people stoop in the game
We have had many reports from teams about the behaviour of others and this has included toxic aggressive behaviour from the moment a team arrives whether a league referee was present or not.
There is a national shortage of referees and this is the number 1 reason why they quit the game and we cannot blame them, as it just isn’t worth the grief to turn up and try your best only to be abused and threatened
This cannot continue and must STOP!
As such we plead with the VAST MAJORITY of good people in the game to help eradicate this from grassroots football
We challenge those good people to stand up to the abusers and work with us to do this, as such we provide our steps which we will be taking to help improve the situation for all.
1. We are instructing all our referees to have a zero tolerance on abuse and aggression and use the laws of the game (sin bin, caution and sending off) for all offenders, including players, and coaches.
2. If this relates to the behaviour of a spectator, ask the club involved to deal with the spectator appropriately and if required ask the club to remove the spectator from the game area
3. If the above is still not working to give the offenders 1 warning that the game will be abandoned if they do not improve or in the case of a request for a spectator to move away and they do not do so
4. If behaviour continues abandon the game and submit a misconduct report to the County FA and the league for us to take further action
So what action will the league be taking?
1. FA Standard Code of Rules for Youth Football (SCORY) allow for the withdrawal of fixtures for 14 days and as such we will be utilising this rule and withdrawing fixtures for offenders
2. On conclusion of the 14 day withdrawal we will expect to see an action plan by the offending club to ensure that behaviour does not continue and we will monitor the offending teams to ensure behaviour improves
3. All these incidents will not only be reported to the County FA for discipline action but if a minor is involved (Player or referee) then we will report to the relevant authorities for safeguarding action to be taken
4. Any team who re-offends after already completing a 14 day withdrawal of fixtures and having already submitted an action plan to improve by their club, will then receive a further 14 day withdrawal of fixtures whilst the league sets up a Special General Meeting to seek a member vote to have the offending team expelled from the league
5. This is a last resort, but we have 743 teams in this league and if one or 2 teams are expelled and behaviour improves, the team folds and the players end up going to a team with a less toxic atmosphere it is a win, win for us all, including the players, the clubs, the league and the game in general.
We hope that our members will support us in this stance as we cannot allow this situation to continue
I add some context below for your information if you wish to read them as this is a national issue that needs to be addressed by everyone in the game
We also would like to put on record our huge thanks to the VAST MAJORITY of those involved in the game who conduct themselves in the best possible manner and are a shining light on the game and for their communities.
The BBDFL is renowned as a leader in the game, so lets take the lead here and ensure that toxic behaviour does not thrive in our game.