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“By supporting these new touchline Respect Barriers you will give everyone involved a chance to enjoy the game we love."

Mal Lee
Founder of the Don't X the Line Campaign

Mal Lee

Over the last five years the changing face of grass roots football has been a major worry, and much of this has come from pushy parents, and some glory seeking managers/coaches.

The touchlines at our junior leagues have become a breeding ground for verbal abuse, mainly directed at referees. Some of these pushy parents feel that they have to show their aggression and anger in front of the children. Do they realise what sort of message they are sending out these children; the future of our country?

One thing they must realise is that their children, first and foremost, look up to them; and sees them as their role models. What the children see they copy, what the children hear they repeat, so if mum or dad are hurling abuse at the referee they then believe it is ok for them to do the same.

I have been working with volunteers over the last five years with the ‘Don’t X The Line Campaign’ to eradicate aggressive, and abusive behaviour by parents and make them aware that showing respect and sportsmanship on and off the field is the key for good behaviour. The campaign is proven; it works and has been adopted all over this country and beyond.

A major problem was pitch encroachment. We witnessed quite a few incidents over the years. Sometimes parents were that far on the pitch it was hard for the goalkeepers to see what was going on in the games! How do we combat that?

The methods are so simple; you segregate the parents/supporters, if possible on opposite touchlines. If that is not possible, split the one touchline into two for each set of parents/supporters. No parents/spectators are allowed to stand behind the goals. This makes it easier for the referee/committees to pinpoint which club the verbal abuse is directed from and they can then act accordingly.

There needed to be some easy way to segregate people. I noticed that when cones were used in games people walked over them and ended up back on the pitch rather than stretching their necks to see when a person steps in front blocking the view.

I always wanted some kind of barrier. I felt this was the only way to really combat the problems. If a barrier was used, it would act as a massive deterrent, especially for pitch encroachment.
I was ecstatic to say the least when I was by a company in the process of developing a touchline barrier with no metal spikes. It was always a worry, and still is, to see posts with metal spikes. I always fear the worst where children are involved and playing.

We used the RespectZone barriers with the Don’t X the Line Campaign, at tournaments, with excellent results and glowing reports from the Referees, League Committees and, yes, the parents/spectators.

The children could actually pick the ball up when it went out for a throw-in without getting lost in between legs and bodies.

The Barriers are, where possible, placed 2 metres from the touchline. They carry a message for all to read, are easy to erect and see, and most of all, no metal spikes!

As a result of these Respect Barrier Kits it now looks like poles with metal spikes and spray paint to mark out lines, are now looking like a thing of the past. Not before time as well,  I know they don’t work!

The FA Respect programme is a 5 year programme designed to put Respect back into football. By supporting these new touchline Respect Barriers you will give everyone involved a chance to enjoy the game we love.

Let’s all give this FA initiative our full support.

Mal Lee
Founder – Don’t X the Line Campaign

Football Foundation

If your club is part of the FA Respect campaign,
click here to order your touchline kits and accessories