Leicester City to host Respect day
Foxes home game with Newcastle is the first ever Respect match.
Leicester City’s game against Newcastle United on Saturday will be the country’s first ever Respect fixture as the Foxes promote The FA’s national Respect programme along with the Football League’s Enjoy the Match campaign.
Respect aims to deal with poor behaviour in football and establish a positive environment in which players, staff, officials, fans and young footballers alike can enjoy the nation’s favourite game.
Since its implementation in 2008/09 there has been a marked improvement in referee recruitment numbers, dissent cautions, harassment of match officials and general player behaviour in the professional game – but more has still to be done.
This Saturday Leicester City Football Club and Leicestershire & Rutland County FA are supporting the programme by hosting this inaugural Respect fixture, to raise its profile and to promote the excellent work undertaken by both the club and county around the Respect agendas.
The event will involve grassroots participation at the Walkers Stadium before kick-off and at half-time, both teams warming up in Respect t-shirts, large-scale giveaways by The FA to raise awareness and a Respect card display by fans in the Marks Electrical Family Stand prior to kick-off. The Respect fixture will be shown live on Sky Sports and also aims to raise the profile of the Football League’s own Enjoy the Match campaign.
The FA’s Chief Executive Ian Watmore said: “I would like to thank Leicester City for inviting The FA to the Walker’s Stadium as a public statement by the club – the Chairman, manager and players – that they wish to be seen playing the game in the spirit it should be played and in support of Leicestershire & Rutland County Football Association who have worked tirelessly with local clubs and leagues to ensure that Respect is integrated into the local football structure.
“The fact remains that it is absolutely everybody’s business to play and watch the game with the right values and with that we need the cooperation of each and every one of you to ensure that for generations to come we still have a game, and one that we can still be proud of.”
Previewing the game that will attract another near capacity crowd to the Walkers Stadium, City’s team captain Matt Oakley emphasised the importance of Respect in football.
“We’re all here to win, but Respect comes first,” he stated. “Hopefully we can give a good signal to the young lads that are coming through. With the Respect code in place, referees want us to stop the yellow cards and the red cards happening even more now. They want to prevent people getting sent off and, if you like, ruining the game.
Oakley added: “The game now seems to have more control about it with Respect in place. There are a lot of fans that get frustrated at games. The important thing is to consider that there are women and children at the stadium. I think the players and fans are taking this on board as well.”
Newcastle manager Chris Hughton reflected on the importance of Respect: “With our game being such a high profile sport, it's very important we set the right example, particularly to young fans. As such we should encourage everybody to support the campaign."
Chief Executive of the Leicestershire & Rutland County FA, Laurence Jones, said he was thrilled and delighted that Leicester City, The FA and the Leicestershire & Rutland County FA have come together to promote The FA Respect Programme.
“This is a fantastic example where the professional game and the County FA are working together to promote good behaviours at all levels of the game. In this day and age it is a testament to the standard being set by the management and players of Leicester City that they are giving such wonderful support to the County FA to address behaviour issues that exist in grassroots football,” he explained.
“Football is our national game, and there is no place in our game for unacceptable and antisocial behaviour. Recreational and youth football is there to be enjoyed and players, coaches and spectators all have a massive responsibility to ensure that football is played in the right environment throughout the County.”
Thirteen local leagues in Leicestershire and Rutland have signed up to the Respect programme after it was introduced by the County FA in January 2009.
The FA’s Respect programme provides a series of tools for leagues, clubs, coaches, referees, players and parents from grassroots to elite football to ensure a safe, positive environment in which to enjoy the game.
These tools include agreed codes of conduct, in-service training for referees, Respect club packs, designated spectator areas and ensuring captains work with referees to manage player behaviour.
Leicester City’s team captain Matt Oakley, Manager Nigel Pearson and Chief Executive Lee Hoos also contributed to The FA’s brand new Respect film, which will be accessible via the programme’s website soon.