Somerset parents warned after junior referees abused verbally

A Somerset-based junior football league has written to parents and clubs to ask them to stop verbally abusing referees - some as young as 14.

In the letter, Woodspring JFL said people wanting to shout at the referee should "keep their mouth shut and count to 10".

It also warned that if they still "can't control themselves" they should "walk away and calm down".

The letter said clubs and individuals could be reported to the Somerset FA.

It states that the league has many young referees who are "developing their skills and need our support".

The letter reads: "We hear so many people say children don't respect others, but what sort of example is being set if they see adults abuse an official in front of children?

"Please support the referee or we will not have referees in the future."

'Women worse'

Chairman of Woodspring JFL John Major said the letter had been sent out over the past five years and was re-issued because "the number of incidents reported had increased" with the installment of a child welfare officer at each club.

Mr Major added: "There has always been incidents and it's the minority, but that minority is increasing."

The former manager of Banwell Juniors U15 side, Steve Andrews said: "It's usually the younger age groups where you have the problems, and I hate to say it, but the women are worse than the men sometimes as they're so protective of their kids.

"It makes them [referees] nervous, they go there for enjoyment and to have fun and they don't want to hear abuse. I've seen some young referees cry."

Chief executive of the Somerset FA Jon Pike said that three years ago poor spectator behaviour from parents and other adults was "sadly a fairly common experience".

"However since the FA's Respect campaign many youth leagues have witnessed an improvement."

Mr Major said the league had voted against joining the Respect campaign but continued to consider its options.

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