Gary Lineker has called for a "parental cultural revolution" in youth football in a bid to improve the long-term fortunes of the English game.
The Match of the Day presenter and England's second-highest ever goalscorer is fed up of "maniacal parents on the touchline spouting nonsense at their children", which he believes acts as a hindrance to the development of young players.
"The competitive nature of most mums and dads is astounding," said Lineker in an article for NewStatesman.com. "The fear they instil in our promising but sensitive Johnny is utterly depressing. We need a parental cultural revolution. If we could just get them to shut the f*ck up and let their children enjoy themselves, you would be staggered at the difference it would make.
Lineker has been critical of some recent performances by the senior England team and the tactics employed by manager Roy Hodgson in these games, but the presenter was full of praise for recent FA initiatives to improve the experience of football for the game's youngest players.
"In very recent times, the FA has made some long-overdue but crucial changes that should make a drastic difference to the kind of player we develop," said Lineker.
"In this country, since footballs made from pigs’ bladders were whacked into goals without nets, we’ve played on full-size pitches. Whatever our age. This is ludicrous. Seven and eight-year-olds valiantly trying to cover the same acreage as those grown-up chaps in the Premier League is absurd."
The former Tottenham and Everton striker also praised the initiatives in place by Premier League academies that ask parents to be quiet while watching matches.
"This has allowed talented young players to express themselves on the field, to take people on, to try a trick, all without the dreaded, predictable rubbish cascading into their ears. This is a very good thing. Who cares who wins an under-eights game? Who cares if a youngster makes a mistake? It’s how we learn."
To read the article in full, please visit NewStatesman.com.
Youth football revolution - have your say!
Do you agree with Gary Lineker that a "parental cultural revolution" is required in youth football? Would the grassroots game benefit if, as Lineker suggests, parents kept quiet? And do you agree that the FA's recent changes to youth football can only benefit long-term player development?
Have your say in our comments section below!