Handshakes are under threat

SOME football referees are refusing to shake the hands of young players for fear of being accused of child abuse, it has emerged.Some parents claim certain Suffolk officials will not shake the hands of children at the end of a match because they are worried their action might be seen as inappropriate.

SOME football referees are refusing to shake the hands of young players for fear of being accused of child abuse, it has emerged.

Some parents claim certain Suffolk officials will not shake the hands of children at the end of a match because they are worried their action might be seen as inappropriate. The latest incident happened this weekend after a game in the Ipswich area when a referee told a player that he was not allowed to touch them.

Martin Head county secretary for Suffolk Football Association (FA), said if anything a handshake was something they would encourage.

“I don't really see there is a problem with it because it is happening on an open pitch in front of a number of people,” he said. “In fact a handshake is something we like to see because it generally means all parties go away happy at the end of a match. “We send all our referees on child protection courses to ensure parents, players and officials are satisfied that things are done in the correct way however there are no specific guidelines on handshakes. It may be that some referees are more cautious than others but it's an accepted ritual of the game.”

Mr Head's comments were echoed by Ed Stone, regional representative for the national FA's Match Officials Association.

He said: “Child protection is important and all referees go through the appropriate training but when we talk about contact with children it is inappropriate contact that is the issue.

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“A shake of the hand at the end of a match to express gratitude is something we would encourage and is part of the post-game ritual.

“It may be that some officials are a little bit more nervous about contact but there isn't any specific advice and we certainly wouldn't discourage players from doing it because it is a sporting gesture.

“It is possibly a reflection of the times we live in and that people are concerned it will be taken the wrong way.”

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