The English FA has taken an offbeat step in their mission to improve behaviour in football by launching its own football club, Respect FC.
The new club isn’t aiming for silverware but to unite fans against the ugly side of the beautiful game to create a safe and enjoyable environment for all involved.
Comedian Mark Watson, chairman of Respect FC, has urged supporters everywhere to unite against the “gobby morons” ruining the game. [continued...]
Since its cross-game launch in 2008, the Respect programme has helped bring about an improvement for many within the grassroots game. One third of Club Website users stated in September 2010 that they had seen an improvement in behaviour in their football matches over the previous 12 months.
However, the 18% of users who claimed to have seen behaviour get worse over the same period show that there is still much to be done and underline why the FA are asking people to come together in this latest push for Respect.
Respect FC Chairman and Bristol City fan Watson said: “We know that it’s so much easier to take a stand against poor behaviour if you are not on your own, if you have someone else on your team. Collectively we can stand up to the gobby morons.
“If you’d like to show the people spoiling our game what they’re up against join my new football club, Respect FC, the club with one goal – to rid the game of the gobby morons.”
For every person that signs up, the FA will put one pound into the Respect initiative within grassroots football (up to the value of £50,000) and, at the end of the season, members of Respect FC will be able to vote on how this money is used.
Whilst £50,000 seems like a drop in the ocean in the crazy modern world of football - it’s three days’ FA salary for Fabio Capello, for example - the money isn’t the most important factor in this latest campaign.
All of us involved in the game, whatever level we’re involved at, are responsible for improving behaviour in the game.
It starts with behaving the right way ourselves on and off the pitch, but also requires us to tell others that verbal and physical abuse have no place in the game.
Club Website continues to support the Respect programme and, whilst we weren’t particularly inspired by the latest video - I guess Ray Winstone is a tough act to follow - we’re throwing our support behind Respect FC and the important message behind it.
But with our support and, we hope, that of our members in the grassroots community, we also make a request of the FA regarding the professional game.
The FA can ask amateur coaches, parents and players to show respect but, for as long as Premier League stars are allowed to abuse referees and get away with it, then what hope do we have of stamping out the problem at grassroots level?
If I were to shout a tirade of foul-mouthed abuse at the referee in my game this Saturday, I’d fully expect to be sent off and could have no complaints if I were.
So why didn't Wayne Rooney receive his marching orders when he did just that to Mike Dean at White Hart Lane last Sunday?
In full view of millions watching on TV, Rooney's effing and blinding bought him just a yellow card, just one example of how little effect the Respect programme has when the big top-flight games come around.
FA figures show that bookings for dissent dropped by 23% in the Premier League last season compared to 2008/09 but, if referees are treating dissent or foul and abusive language with such leniency, then it’s hardly surprising.
If referees stood up to any dissent with a yellow card and foul and abusive language aimed at them with a red card - and if the FA were to support them with appropriate penalties for offending players - then just imagine what that might do for Respect right across the game.
Let’s hope that Respect FC proves a great success at grassroots level, helping people to enjoy their football without suffering the ugly side of the beautiful game.
But we agree with the Chairman - nobody likes a gobby moron. So let's hope the professional game leads the way by dealing with a few gobby morons of their own.
If you want to join Respect FC visit www.respectfootballclub.com.
Dan Pope, Club Website editor
Have your say on Respect FC!
What do you think of the FA's latest campaign to improve Respect? Will you be signing up to Respect FC? And, wherever you are in the UK, what do you think needs to be done to improve behaviour at all levels of the game?