'Respect' one year on – is it working?

Respect logoRespect.  It’s been the buzzword in football for the last 12 months.

From the bright lights of the Champions League to the nitty gritty of amateur football, everyone’s been talking about it… but has behaviour on the pitch improved as a result?

The English FA launched their Respect programme at the start of last season in a bid to stem the tide of 7,000 referees quitting football each year, primarily due to the abuse levelled at them during games.

Supported by the professional game, hopes were high that this would signal the start of a big change in football in this country. The word ‘respect’ filled the airwaves on football phone-ins, panel shows and in post-match discussions.

With all this chat, it didn’t take long for those of us who play the game to get the message – respect the referee.

Now, one year on, we want to find out if respect is on the increase in the grassroots game.  We want to hear what’s happening in parks up and down the country…. so we want to hear to from YOU!

Did behaviour towards referees improve in your grassroots football matches last season?

Did behaviour towards referees improve in your grassroots football matches last season?

Our latest club website poll revealed that 41% of people felt behaviour did improve in the amateur game last season, while 59% of you think that things were no better.

So the majority think that ‘Respect’ is just talk at the moment – not followed up actions by action where it’s needed.  On the flip side, some 41% of people seeing an improvement is at least a start for what the FA see as a long-term ‘programme’, not a short-term ‘campaign’.

What do you think? Have your say!

Have you noticed an improvement in behaviour on the pitch this season?  If not, what should be done about it?  How can the governing bodies and the football community as a whole improve behaviour in the game?

Whilst ‘Respect’ is an English FA programme, the issue of behaviour in football is much wider.  If you’re from elsewhere in the UK, what are your thoughts on the subject?  Is there need for a similar programme in Scotland or Wales?

We want to hear from you. Have your say using our new comments section below.  We want you to inform and shape the debate on all the big football matters, so let us know what you think!

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Dan Pope
Writer at Teamer
Freelance writer, editor and copywriter, with a passion for grassroots sport. A right back turned football writer, Dan is the former editor of Club Website and has been lucky enough to work in the field of grassroots and community sport for the last 10 years.

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  1. Jon Taylor on July 8, 2009 at 9:19 am

    There was a raised awareness of the need for ‘Respect’ in our games last season but behaviour didn’t change that much… there’s still a long way to go!

    Don’t see how we’re going to solve the problem where it’s needed at grass roots level when the pros are still shouting their mouths off at refs on the TV… who’d want to be a referee? Not me!

  2. Marcus Cleary on July 9, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    I think the problem you have starts with the pro’s. If they don’t show respect to the officials then how do you expect the youngsters to? When the kids see their favourite player misbehaving then he or she will copy them. Respect starts at a very young age. If you leave it too late then they will never learn respect.

  3. footymums.com on July 13, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    The important thing is that the Respect campaign provides a focus to those who want to see a huge improvement in behaviour both on and off the pitch. The upside is that it’s a well thought through standard to implement, the downside is that it is a massive task to affect change and it won’t happen overnight.

    Footymums senses that there is true momentum building behind the initiative and incremental improvements will be seen over the next few seasons. As a soon to be launched website we will be getting right behind the initiative – some determined mums on the case will help to get the message through to those who try and spoil the game at grassroots level!

  4. lynn wilson on July 15, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    We are a small club and have been taking part with RESPECT for the past year. We offered a prize for the most sporting player at our tournament and the refs were the judges. A great day was had by all and not a single problem was reported by the refs all day. With over 40 teams and 320 players that was quite an achievement. Maybe it was because there was a prize to be won but behaviour was excellent all round.

    Also, RESPECT BARRIERS. If they were not so expensive more clubs would be using them by now. There is part funding available if you have the patience to persevere in applying for it but it is not a quick and easy process. Make it easier and the game will get more uptake.

  5. David Waldney on July 15, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    I manage a ladies footie team and, although i think the respect campaign is a good idea, i have found this season that some of the refs don’t show the players respect and only seem to be interested in getting their match fee.

    Whether this is because some refs don’t think that girls/ladies should be playing football i don’t know. It’s a two way thing: if you want respect as a ref you must also respect the players surely?

    I think we should introduce the same system as rugby union/league they never give the ref any hassle.

  6. Kevin Bowmer on July 24, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    The Respect campaign will have zero effect unless it is enforced at the very highest level.

    It really is time that the FA looked at their flagship, the Premier League. Kids will copy their heroes – full stop.

    Not long ago, the rules were changed to allow a free kick to be moved forward in the event of abuse, yet how often do you see that happening now? Another case of a good idea allowed to go soft by the FA. Just like the rugby-style mic-ing up of refs was dropped once it was realised that the game’s heroes were not going to temper their foul mouthed outpourings simply because a few hero worshipping children could hear what they were saying.

    The only way this will work is if the punishment fits the crime. Abuse a match official – off. No second chance, off. And the subsequent ban must be heavy enough to serve as a deterrent. Maybe they could take a few pointers from the amateur game. If a Sunday morning player is sent off, he cops for a 35 day ban. If the same punishment was dished out to those involved in the professional game, the Wengers and Fergusons of this world would soon instil a bit a discipline into their players.

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