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During a football game, almost everyone is charged with emotion, but sometimes it’s getting too intense. Yelling spectators & parents everywhere… It seems to have become normality. Susanne Amar, founder of the blog “Ins Netz gegangen” [“Gone Into the Net”] writes about “Fair play” on the sidelines and the responsibilities of parents, in her second part on this topic.

[…] Currently, I’m not having fun anymore standing on the sidelines, because often I can’t grasp what’s going on: there is constant interference in the game with interjections from the sidelines – that’s normal for coaches who direct their players…But if all the spectators are bellowing “offsides” or “foul” in the kind of tone that makes the referee blow the whistle from fear, constantly the correct disciplinary measures are being commented on from the side, opponents are being insulted, etc., then that is rather hard. […]

This is the reaction of a mother to my article, “What Parents Expect from Soccer”, published last week in the planet.training blog. Somehow I’m itching to devote myself to the topic again.

A few weeks ago I read the article, “The Biggest Problem are the Parents”, in the Tagesspiegel on 9/28/2016, ANONYMOUSLY written by a referee. That in itself says quite a lot…

In addition to the positive reasons for his life as a coach, he reports on the behavior of the “problem parents”, among other things.

Those who yell at their child from the sidelines.

Those who insult the opposing players.

Those who attest to the incompetence of the referee.

Those who, in the most extreme case, threaten whomsoever with a beating.

"Somehow rude behavior next to the soccer field became a perennial issue"

For Ralf Klohr, the originator of the FairPlay League, a fight in an F-Youth game in 2005 is the trigger to deal with fair behavior on and off the pitch. For him, the perpetrators are the coaches, the parents and the referee. Together with the coaches in his club, where he is currently Youth Leader, he sets up three rules:

  • Fan Rule
    Parents and all spectators stand approximately 15 m away from the playing field in order to prevent interference and heckling

  • Coach Rule
    The coaches of both teams are located in a coaching zone from which they intervene in the game objectively and amicably, should it be necessary.

  • Referee Rule
    In the F- and E-Youth teams, the game is played without referees and the players themselves decide about foul, corner, hand play, or throw-in.

What started as a pilot program with 12 teams in 2007 is lived nationwide through the E-Youth level.

Ralf Klohr’s approach is quite simple: it starts from the ground up. Already at a young age children learn to deal fairly with each other, which serves as the foundation for their further development. Like a young tree which can become an imposing colossus through a stable root system. It makes sense!

But what about the parents?

They have long since slipped out of children’s shoes. In pedagogy it is said that the foundations should be laid up to the age of 10/12 years. After that it is only about fine adjustment.

What does this mean for the 45-year-old banker who behaves like a berserker on the pitch? Or the mother who turns into a fury during the game? For them, the train has long since left.

Talking with each other helps in the fewest cases. Gladly, then, come the arguments that one didn’t mean it that way, that soccer happens to be an emotional sport and shows insight. Until the next game… And we are surprised if young players do not behave themselves “adequately” on the pitch.

In soccer generally, rude behavior is the rule. Fair play or not. But must that also be true for youth soccer? Are emotions allowed to go so far that I behave toward my counterpart disrespectfully, contemptuously, offensively, violating boundaries?

"I say unequivocally: No!"

To the parents who may now feel addressed, I advise that they put themselves in the position of their child, whom they are now humiliating. Or in the opponent, whom they verbally abuse. Or in the coach, to whom they say he is rubbish and hasn’t a clue.

How does that feel? Not pleasant, I guess. Would they tolerate such a conversational tone in their workplace? I’m guessing not.

I often write about respect, tolerance, and appreciation. For me, virtues which are the basis for togetherness. Of course, we can discuss whether everybody sees this the same way.

It can help the foul-mouthed parents on the sidelines if they treat their fellow human beings the way they themselves would like to be treated. Because I can not imagine that anyone would like to be torn down, yelled at, or mocked.

That that is not the solution is something I’m already aware of. It would be too beautiful if it were so simple. It can, however, be a step in the right direction.

"It lies in each one's hands..."

Ultimately, the players are the ones who suffer. They want to play, compete, and above all, have fun. Which is really difficult with screaming and embarrassing parents.

What do you think about it? What are your experiences?

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This article was written by Susanne Amar, founder of the blog, “Ins Netz gegangen” [“Gone Into the Net”]. Find more info on her website (in German) or on our planet.training Blog.

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