As we enter an eighth season of Respect, the FA’s programme to improve behaviour in football, a new Club Website poll has revealed that little has changed for the majority of the grassroots football community.
In a poll of Club Website members, 57 percent of more than 1,200 respondents said that behaviour has not improved in the grassroots game since Respect launched in 2008.
For those people not participating in official Respect leagues, that percentage grows even higher, with nearly two in three (64%) saying the behaviour has not improved.
Results are more promising for those clubs and leagues participating under the Respect umbrella, although the majority (54%) still believe that things have not improved in seven years.
The FA’s own Respect statistics have cast a more positive light on the programme’s success, with dissent cautions across the game down by 23 per cent since 2008, while misconduct charges relating to team officials or spectators are down by 13 per cent.
Referee numbers have grown from 23,000 to 27,000 since Respect launched, with the FA addressing a worrying exodus of referees from the game that, in part, lead to the creation of the programme in the first place.
Over the last seven years, the FA has sought to improve the environment around youth football by introducing designated spectator areas, Respect training for coaches, codes of conduct, pitch-side marshalls, parents briefings and Respect signage.
But has this proved enough?
Has the touchline behaviour of spectators, coaches and officials – so often the focus of the campaign – improved in line with the FA’s efforts to improve the environment?
Our poll results suggest that for the majority of people they haven’t and there remains a significant way to go, with everyone in the game – clubs, leagues, players, coaches and officials – needing to do their part.
Dermot Collins, the FA’s Respect Manager, said: “It’s important to realise that the Respect programme is not a policing initiative by the FA but largely about campaigning, supporting good practice and providing resources for clubs and leagues to use to raise awareness of the consequence of poor behaviour.
“What we have seen with the Respect programme is improvements in some parts of the game, particularly in the national league system and youth football, but there is still work to do in other areas of the game.
“What is interesting from this survey is the difference in perception between those playing in Respect Leagues and those that are not.
“If clubs and leagues don’t engage then it can come as little surprise that behaviour doesn’t change.”
Have your say on Respect!
What do you think about our poll results and the FA’s own stats on the success of the Respect progamme over the last seven years?
Whose responsibility is it to improve behaviour at grassroots football matches? What more could the FA do to ensure that behaviour levels improve? But what can clubs and leagues themselves do to help overcome the problem?
Have your say in the comments section below!
Poll result: Has behaviour in grassroots football improved since the Respect programme launched in 2008?
Overall (1,236 votes):
No 56.8% / Yes 43.2%
In a Respect League (962):
No 54.8% / Yes 45.2%
Not in a Respect League (274):
No 63.9% / Yes 36.1%