Please would you take a minute to read the open letter below from Graham Ekins, Surrey Youth League’s Chairman, written in the wake of some appalling events following last weekend’s SYL fixtures.
As a Club, Worplesdon Rangers FC takes a zero tolerance approach to any such mindless behaviour amongst parents, players and volunteers. We have Codes of Conduct in place which we all sign up to when we become members of WRFC and we simply won’t tolerate the ‘thugs and idiots’ referred to in Graham’s note. Historically, we have a good track record as a Club in this respect and are committed to continuing in this manner, offering football for all our Members in a fun and safe environment. Please support your League and work with your Committee to ensure that things stay this way and that our Club is one that we can all be extremely proud of.
From: Graham Ekins <email@example.com>
Date: 22 February 2016 18:36:17 GMT
To: undisclosed-recipients: ;
Subject: SYL Chairmans Position Regarding and unacceptable weekend
Reply-To: Graham Ekins <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Everyone Associated with the Surrey Youth Football League
I find myself, after what has been a dreadful weekend for children’s football in a League for which I am Chairman.
I am going to pull no punches in the following few paragraphs. The level of outright violence, abuse and disrespect has to stop. Shortly you the adults will have removed the ability for a children’s football league to function in its current form of volunteers.
This weekend I have seen through my emails the following alleged events:-
- Head butting and abuse towards linesmen
- Two parents fighting on the touchline
- Abuse by two teams of a child referee (U18)
- A referee being threatened with a stabbing by a parent
- At least 3 games abandoned, there maybe more.
- Players, egged on by managers, threatening to smash up a changing room
In addition to the above in recent weeks one of most experienced referee has decided to quit.
The clubs and people involved in any of the above should be ashamed of themselves, don’t blame others look at what you did or didn’t do, and don’t blame the ref!
This cannot continue, you as clubs and all people involved in trying to voluntarily run children’s football need to take back control from thugs and idiots that are doing a great job of spoiling Sunday mornings for children, and then occupying league officers time for the rest of the week whilst we clear the mess up.
The league has now at least 11,500 children playing, we have probably 15,000 parents watching each week, the league cannot be at every ground to referee parents and make them behave. This is your league its not mine or Frank’s, its your league, you come into it because it’s pretty well organised to play matches for children, but some are now letting the league descend into something that is being questioned by officers of the league as to why they bother.
The league officers are currently in the process of organising cup finals, acquiring medals, getting cups back, booking venues, organising Junior Leaders courses, Level 1 &2 coaching courses, award days and of course the business as usual work of providing fixtures, dealing with unplayed games, organising refs and ensuring every player is registered, all the work we enjoy, but this is busy enough.
I hear and see time and time again “It’s the League’s fault”, “The League is dreadful in letting this and that happen” – well, for information “The League” is a voluntary set of people who have come together to help organise children’s football – FREE OF CHARGE, none of their time is paid for, we are not there to deal with public law enforcement. When our business as usual is distracted because of this behaviour, then all the good things we need to do gets delayed or just not done.
Frank and myself, along with the League committee volunteers want to organise the football, we don’t want and need our email boxes filling up with people asking us to deal with ADULT idiots and thugs. Quite frankly, if there is a level of violence and intimidation that you wouldn’t tolerate on the streets, then why haven’t you called the police at the time. It appears to us that people want to turn the other cheek and give the problem to some other poor volunteer to sort out, please take control yourselves.
The professional people who deal with misconduct is the County FA’s, not the league, and to be honest all that they should be dealing with is on field and near field Cautions and Sendings off, and what might be called mild offensive abuse (Passion going the wrong side of what acceptable). They are not in a position to deal with what should be considered the rule of British Law.
Personally I am sick of seeing this happen week in and week out to some level, by what is I accept a few, but affecting so many. This weekend around 200 matches with 10 serious events – 5% of games had an incident 1 in 20 matches too many. 95% of you behaved I accept that, but…!
Everyone needs to gain control, all clubs and all parents if you see this awful behaviour deal with it, and if serious enough call the police, anyone assaulted or threatened with violence needs to call the police. These are the ultimate powers, asking a volunteer organisation to investigate and hold to account a violent abusive individual isn’t going to work or happen, use professionals.
You as clubs, whose league this is, need to take control. Please take the following action.
1) Convene your committee and work out a plan of action to ensure there is a zero tolerance of this awful behaviour.
2) Ensure that every parent in the League sees this email – printed out and handed to them.
3) Make sure that every piece of behaviour observed that would not be allowed on the street is reported to the police immediately – violence and threatening behaviour.
4) If you have thugs and idiots in your club then remove them and unfortunately their children, not banned for a game or two – finished, no more, removed. Leopards and changing spots!
5) Please ensure that any reports come via Club Secretarys, we as a league cannot and will not deal with complaints from parents directly, please ensure all of your parents and managers know this. These need to go to Frank Thompson the League General Secretary via Club Secretaries, not any of the age group Fixture Secretaries
6) We will compile and forward complaints of misconduct to the professional County FA authorities. If there are complaints then these need witness statements, which contain clear statements of fact, with actual words or actions used, not opinion
7) Fixture Secretaries are responsible for fixtures, they are not there to deal with thugs and idiots, please do not report misconduct to them
8) Do not abuse or question referees, too many people think it’s fair game – its not.
I am personally thinking that one week we should withdraw all referees and just let everyone get on with it, if you don’t play then the match is null and void, lets see how brave people will be to volunteer to referee then.
I have heard and seen all the excuses over the years and the blame culture towards others. Take responsibility yourselves, act on issues, get the police involved where you have to, deal with it there and then.
Shortly the volunteers will walk away, I am questioning my own future with the League. Whilst everyone says its only the mindless few, that maybe true, but why do I or anyone else have to look at this utter contempt for Law and disrespect for humanity. Why should I have my name associated with something like this, would you?
Would you want your name associated with a children’s competition that resulted in the death of someone as a consequence of violence, don’t believe it wouldn’t happen, it did to a linesman at a children’s match in the Netherlands 3 or 4 years ago. If this continues I fear that this maybe the result here.
It’s football for children – get some perspective!
The football is in your hands.