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Kent Football Association reveal shocking list of incidents of poor behaviour during just nine weeks of play

The Kent FA have written an open letter to players, spectators and officials following an ‘unacceptable’ level of poor behaviour in the first part of this season.

During a nine-week period when grassroots football was played - between September and November 2020 - there were nine games at under-18 level abandoned due to poor behaviour and a further eight in open aged (adult) matches.

Kent FA's list of incidents during just nine weeks of play (45485043)
Kent FA's list of incidents during just nine weeks of play (45485043)

The Kent FA say during that same period, when games were allowed between Covid lockdowns, there were five misconduct charges following threatening behaviour to match officials, 814 instances of dissent, by word or action, 55 reports of improper conduct to match officials, including abusive language/behaviour and 37 incidents of failing to ensure players, officials and or spectators conducted themselves in an orderly fashion.

The county say they have been shocked at the levels recorded and as such have written the open letter, signed by 29 affiliated leagues within Kent who are said to be jointly concerned by the increasing levels of poor behaviour.

With grassroots football returning next week, the letter said: “As we are only days away from the much-anticipated restart of grassroots football, we felt it necessary to address a significant challenge that our beautiful game faces.

“While the vast majority of those involved with our game act in a fair, respectful and positive way week in and week out, sadly there is an increasing number that do not.

“This is unacceptable for a game that should be safe, fun and inclusive for players of all ages, abilities and experiences.

“We each carry the responsibility of ensuring our game is an enjoyable place to play, coach and officiate football.”

Addressing those involved in the game, the letter continued: “Let us make it clear that your actions will determine the enjoyment of players, spectators and officials around you. Every foul and abusive word, every threatening action and every physical assault damages the experience of every other individual who loves our game.

“Match officials, whether they are qualified or volunteering, must be respected. We can assure you that whilst you will not always agree with their decisions, match officials are not your opposition.

“They look forward to officiating your game as much as you do playing or coaching it. However, due to how many of them are treated by players, spectators and team officials, less are stepping forward to officiate.

“There will be a direct consequence to your match and our game will slide further from where we want it to be.”

The letter warns that future sanctions could include teams being removed from leagues.

It added: “Any of the 29 affiliated leagues can offer their clubs the opportunity to exclude a club or team from the league.

“This is obviously a last resort that the League Officials would like to take, but they do have this authority within the Standard Code of Rules.

“Further to this, please never forget that the people that spend many hours organising your games are volunteers. This means they are not paid for what they do. It also means that when they feel their efforts are not appreciated, they may walk away from managing your clubs and leagues.

“Therefore, to ensure Kent football is a safe, fun and inclusive place, we have a simple request for players, spectators and team officials: Act respectfully to ensure everyone can enjoy our game.”

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