Respect came about through concern from the grassroots game as to the damage arising from abuse towards referees, a lack of referees in the grassroots game and poor sideline behaviour – particularly in youth football.
Through Respect, The FA homes to achieve:
- A qualified referee for every game
- Zero tolerance for assaults on referees
- An improvement in on-field player discipline, in particular reducing dissent to referees and in competitions that have an established record of poor discipline
- A step change in youth football as to what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour from parents and spectators
- An enjoyable learning environment in youth football.
After two seasons of Respect, progress is being made. Referees feel better supported and are more likely to continue their involvement. In a survey of 3,500 active officials in November 2009, 35 per cent reported that they were more likely to remain a referee and 39 per cent said they had received less abuse from players as a result of Respect.
There has been a seven per cent increase in the number of active officials and an increase of 36 per cent of Level 9 referees – those in training to become fully qualified. Importantly, there has been a 13 per cent decrease in referee assaults.
One of the major themes of the Respect programme has been its attempt to deal with overtly aggressive coaches and pushy parents who are in some cases having a detrimental impact on the youth football. The Respect programme increased awareness of the problem and provided some practical measures to create a more supportive environment
There are a number of interventions recommended to leagues and clubs to instill Respect at grassroots level. These include the use of Codes of Conduct, designated spectator areas and pre-match handshakes. These interventions are now widespread. More importantly there is greater peer pressure on coaches or parents that do not behave in an acceptable way. Already over 500 youth leagues have committed themselves to the programme.
The designated spectator areas have had particular success in creating a barrier between spectators and the playing field, with official barriers carrying the Respect message as a constant reminder to check behaviour. Parents and spectators line one side of the field, while coaches stand on the opposite side.
The FA is actively working with coaches to create a positive environment in which young people can develop and enjoy the game. An online Respect module has now become a pre-course requirement for those undertaking the FA Level 1 coaching qualification. Since its introduction in May 2009, nearly 17,000 coaches have undertaken this module.
752 leagues have signed up for Respect (out of 1,200) although implementation of the Respect interventions is at different stages across those leagues. Your club can make a clear commitment to Respect by competing in a league that has signed up to the programme or by encouraging your league to sign-up.