It's about time for a Parents' Charter

SOCCER: "It is just the tip of the iceberg," said referee X as he reviewed two stories published this week after alleged attacks and confrontations by parents on teenage referees at Suffolk youth matches.

By Elvin King

"IT is just the tip of the iceberg," said referee X as he reviewed two stories published this week after alleged attacks and confrontations by parents on teenage referees at Suffolk youth matches.

"I have been taking charge of youth games for the last nine years," added the official, who recently received verbal abuse after a game of which he was in charge.

"It came from young girls and I could not believe the language. I then had to run a gauntlet to get to my car.

"I am experienced enough to cope with it and put it to one side, but a newcomer would think twice about taking charge of another youth match.

"What made me really angry was that I reported the matter to Suffolk FA and the club was found guilty, but they were fined a paltry £10.

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"What deterrent is that? None whatsoever and unless there is stiffer punishment the problem will never go away."

Referee X also calls for a Parents' Charter, considered a few years ago, to be brought in. This would mean that parents of young players would have to be part of a register giving the respective leagues and the Suffolk FA a better chance of dealing with the worst offenders.

They could be banned and even fined.

"A Parents' Charter has worked in much tougher places than Ipswich," added referee X. "In Manchester it has mainly eradicated the problem.

"For some reason we have dragged our heels in Suffolk and the call to get the charter off the ground has fallen on deaf ears.

"There should also be more stringent fines and more scope for the offending parents to be dealt with effectively. The Suffolk FA could play a much stronger role than they currently are."

Referee X feels the whole concept of youth football in this part of the world is wrong. "It is win, win, win," he said.

"Parents are not bothered by the development of their child or the child's enjoyment.

"They are re-living their dreams through their offspring and believe their sons are going to become the next David Beckhams.

"Too many talented youngsters give up the game when they become 16 or 17 because they find it is no fun. These boys could have enjoyed 20 years of playing football if they had not been poisoned by their parents.

"Most parents are great but the problem ones antagonise their kids to make life tough for the referee. Many youth referees have just qualified and if treated correctly in the early stages can carry on officiating for many years.

"The onus is on the FA and the leagues to get it right."

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