Middlesex FA are to launch a ‘Football Watch’ pilot campaign from August-December of 2023 in an attempt to proactively affect the level of undesirable behaviour within grassroots football. As well as this, the pilot hopes to create a better football environment for all, leading to greater retention of both players and referees.
Whilst some types of discipline cases actually reduced last season, a worrying increase in serious cases against Match Officials was found.
Most notably, this included an increase of 83.3% in charges raised for players/officials/spectators making Physical Contact with Match Officials. This is simply unacceptable and required us to take urgent action.
Daniel May, Head of Football Services commented: “Unfortunately, the level of discipline cases continues to remain at a high level throughout the county and we are aware that this can lead to a negative environment for people to take part in football. These issues have been cited as some of the key reasons as to why match officials and players drop out of the game. In response to this we want to raise awareness about good practice as well as gain a better understanding about why incidents are happening, to further challenge behaviour and change attitudes.”
Middlesex FA will now be taking proactive measures to try and reduce poor behaviour. In order to do so, the County FA will be recruiting ‘Football Watch Ambassadors’ who will anonymously attend football fixtures throughout the first half of the season. Their primary role will be to monitor good and bad practice of players, officials and spectators and report directly back to the disciplinary department.
With the introduction of anonymous observations, clubs are expected to pass this message on throughout their networks to ensure all club members are aware.
Any reports of misconduct or poor behaviour could lead to disciplinary charges being raised and/or education being ordered, with larger sanctions imposed for repeat offenders.
We hope these measures will help to further discourage poor behaviour in football within Middlesex as well as providing us with greater clarity on how best to tackle these issues in the future through the collection of data.