With the season well underway and enjoying a rare patch of dry weather, while we have had an uninterrupted season so far, we have unfortunately experienced a less than positive environment regarding fair play, positive football and respect.
Across all ages in NPL and State League we have seen increased reporting of matters that do not meet the standards all clubs, coaches, administrators, players and fans should be seeking. Even more worrying is the fact these incidents are not limited to senior football but are prevalent in youth football.
The onus and responsibility for the actions lies squarely in the hands of senior club officials, the coaching staff and parents. The behaviours players and supporters exhibit against match officials and other players is often taken directly from the actions and behaviours of coaches.
If you are not aware so far this season we have seen:
– Crowd / spectator violence
– verbal abuse by spectators towards players
– fighting between players, coaches and spectators in one incident with a players as young as 13.
– using offensive, insulting or abusive language by players and coaches towards match officials
– verbal abuse and swearing by players towards other players.
It is distressing these actions do not appear isolated and we have noted a marked increase since 2015, particularly in the case of verbal abuse to referees which is up over 50% this year on last year.
Match officials – like players and coaches – are human and not perfect. They, like players and coaches, do not always get it right and their decisions may not be seen by some as correct. Whether a match officials decision is right or wrong, there are clear and explicit rules set out in the FNSW Grievance & Disciplinary Regulations 2016, the FFA National Code of Conduct and the FFA Member Protection Policy around the way players and coaches must act, speak and perform either on the sidelines, in the tunnel or on social media.
On the issue of social media, we note that that there has been a recent increase in the amount of abuse directed at match officials via social media platforms. FNSW is taking a firmer stand against this type of abuse and two club officials have recently appeared before the FNSW General Purposes Tribunal and received suspensions of three and six months, respectively. All club officials, coaches and players are reminded that they must comply with the FNSW Grievance & Disciplinary Regulations 2016 (in particular, section 17 (Social Media and Detrimental Public Comment)) and the FNSW Social Media Policy and breaches of these may result in disciplinary action being taken against them.
Club officials are also reminded that clubs are responsible, and liable, for the conduct and behaviour of their supporters at both home and away matches.
Just like players, referees train and seek to improve their performance. We will continue to work with the NSW State League Referees Branch, instructors, coaches and assessors and the match officials themselves to ensure they review their matches and continue to develop and improve.
If you are not aware of these policies, I strongly encourage you to ensure that all your players, coaches and officials are made aware of them.
As a game we seek your support, leadership and direction to ensure we offer a safe and friendly environment while maintaining a competitive approach with an underlying respect for match officials, coaches and players alike.
Lets all keep the Beautiful game Beautiful!
Chief Executive Officer