Is behaviour getting worse in grassroots football?

Is behaviour getting worse in grassroots football?

Football officials in Wales are concerned about an increase in bad behaviour and violent incidents in amateur football matches.

The Port Talbot and District League was suspended for the last two weekends after reported flare-ups in under-12, 14 and 16 age-group matches, while the South Wales Football Association (SWFA), to whom the league is affiliated, has reported an increase in poor behaviour in the last year.

SWFA secretary John Phillips said: “The discipline, especially in junior football, is getting worse.

“There’s certainly a lot more disciplinary reports coming in. In senior football we are getting a lot of problems. Our discipline at matches this season is worse than what it was last year.

In the last month alone, the SWFA have handed banned one player for 12 months and suspended another for the remainder of this season on misconduct charges.  A further 18 players have been banned for between four and 12 games with fines of up to £100.

Phillips added: “If we knew what the reason was, then we could deal with it better. It’s all varied. The majority [of problems] are coming from spectators. I hope giving people long suspensions gives them the opportunity to reflect on the situation.


Meanwhile police in Swansea are appealing for witnesses over an alleged “serious” assault on a player this month.

The incident was reported to have happened in a reserve team fixture between Gowerton and Coopers Arms on Saturday 5 November.

Carl Shackley of South Wales Police said: “This assault can only described as totally unprovoked, which has left a young man with serious facial injuries for which he has had to undergo hospital treatment.

“There were a number of spectators at the game many of whom would have witnessed the assault. I would urge these people to come forward.”

A 24 year old man arrested in connection with the incident has been released on bail.

This worrying news from Welsh football follows on from concerning figures from the English game last season.

Football Association figures reported by BBC Radio 5 Live in March revealed that there were 330 assaults on referees by amateur footballers in England from the beginning of last season until the end of February, an increase of 27% on the previous year.

The FA expressed “concern” at the figures, but insisted that its Respect campaign – which is aims to improve levels of behaviour throughout the game – was working, leading to an increase in referee recruitment, fewer officials dropping out of the game and an increase in cautions for dissent.

Have your say: Is violence in grassroots football a concern?

As ever, we want to hear about your experience out there at the sharp end of grassroots football. Have you noticed any change in behaviour over recent years?  Is violence on or around the field of play a serious concern for the amateur game?

Whatever part of the UK you are from, we want to get your thoughts on this important issue for our game, so please have your say in our comments section below.

Also, don’t forget to cast your vote in our latest Club Website poll, which aims to find out how often the beautiful game turns ugly at grassroots level.

Poll: Discounting in-game incidents (e.g. bad tackles), have you witnessed any violence at your football matches in the last 12 months?

Cast your vote on your club/league website (or our demo site) now!

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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. j chamberlain on November 24, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    Absolutely, there are some great clubs and teams at grassroots level, but unfortunately the game is not about if you have talent but who you know and whose parents socialise with. I complained to Kent fa about the way the new manager of team treated kids, who sent the complaint straight back to the club to deal with. Not impressed with Kent fa at all as the New manager in charge but kids forced to leave because of the new managers behaviour.

  2. andy on November 24, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    we had an incident last year when a spectator (local troublemaker) turned up and assaulted a player from our opposition as he left the pitch, i wanted him charged with assault but the player didn’t our club got fined £350 in total while this little scrote got away scott free

  3. Tony Kendall on November 25, 2011 at 10:10 am

    parents on sidelines are getting worse. i have been to grounds with my u11s team and they dont have respect barriers up, so you have to move them back literally yourself. respect barriers seem to calm the situation down well, i think that anyway.

  4. eian on November 30, 2011 at 3:25 am

    teams and managers should focus on player development rarther than just winning and regarding behavior the perants, managers and players should be banned instantly by the club for bad behaviour in any shape or form and this should send a strong message out for the future game
    children just want to play football so leave them to it ,its there game not yours.
    just to finish i went into football managment not to see the children, team win every week although that is great for confidence,for me it is more important to see team development as this should bring the team together win or lose

  5. Andrew on November 30, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    I totally agree with Eian, youth football should be about the development of the players involved. Unfortunately I have witnessed a lot of what I would call ‘coach orientated’ teams, where the ego of the management involved and creating a win at all costs team seem to be all that matters. Individual leagues have to take responsibility along with the FA to supervise teams and matches to ensure that discipline, coach education and player development are priorities and not the kick furthest, tackle hardest, run fastest, shout loudest youth football I seem to encounter all too often.

  6. Tim Parsons on December 2, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Passion is a part of the game and this will never change. Sometimes passion gives way to anger and this is simply human nature. Managers, Officials, parents and spectators are subject to this human characteristic. Mostly this manifests in poor behaviour and violence is the more rare and extreme form. Unfortunately cheating and the win at all costs mentality is common within grass roots football and the frustrations experienced as a resut often give rise to over zealous reactions. The solution is for the Football authorities to invest directly into Charter Standard clubs and local Leagues with cash and not “initiatives”. Provide facilities equipment coaching standards and a system of behavioural “Policing”. Grass roots needs real money and infrastructure not “Campaigns”.
    The FA have stated that the grass roots coach is probably more important than the England Coaching Staff. The current level of investment does not appear to support this statement?

  7. Wendy Elwood on December 18, 2011 at 10:15 am

    I am 12 and i have seen some very bad thing happening at football matches and even when i have played in my own matches i felt like i was slowly being pushed out of the team also, when i have watched some games the focus is always win, win,win, by parents that put pressure on their teams players, they think they are incoraging the team but it turns out one of the players is normally upset during and after the match. I think as a twelve year old girl the top teams in the higher leages (man u man city teams like that) should travel to local areas and talk to the players and parents about the FA rules and what the concequences are if you dissobey them. Again all a football match is and needs to be is a fun, fair team game.
    why is it that there is more respect cricket and rugby than football? it is descraceful.

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