League warning after teenage ref abuse

AN INCREASE in abuse towards football referees as young as 14 has led a North Somerset league to clamp down on parents.

The Woodspring Junior Football League has been forced to issue a statement warning parents and spectators that they risk fines and bans for launching foul-mouthed tirades at the officials.

The chairman of the league, which operates 23 divisions for youngsters aged eight to 16 across North Somerset and Sedgemoor, says abuse has reached an ‘unacceptable’ level, that parents and clubs face sanctions from the Somerset Football Association (FA).

The statement, which urges people to not behave in a ‘mindless’ way, says counting to 10 and walking away from the pitch can help to calm angry spectators down.

League chairman John Major said: “We have had incidents where parents have subjected referees trying to officiate matches with foul-mouthed abuse in front of their own children, and this is just not acceptable.

“There have also been incidents were there have been assaults on the pitch, with players attacking each other, and individuals there will also face punishment.

“These problems have always existed within the league for years, but for some reason they have increased this season and we need to act now to stamp it out.

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“The 14-17-year-old referees are children as well – as a parent, how would you feel if someone was shouting abuse at your son or daughter?

“Adults should be setting an example to the youngsters.”