The Haute-Garonne football district publishes a clip to raise awareness of violence

To combat violence around amateur football fields, the Haute-Garonne football district is launching an awareness clip. This is a phenomenon that unfortunately is growing: parents get annoyed, even violent, because their children are substitutes or are not selected for a competition. Marco Sentein, the president of the Haute-Garonne football district, was a guest at France bleu Occitanie on Wednesday morning.

You have launched an awareness campaign against this violence in football, they are clearly increasing in the department?

Yes, as with other federations, we realize that in football animation, so we are talking about 5/12 year olds, unfortunately we have a lot of rudeness: violence sometimes non-verbal, also verbal. Parents, I’d say, confuse the fun of playing, of bringing their kids, with maybe football entertainment sets where it feels like the Champions League final.

Have you counted the number of incidents in Haute-Garonne since the start of the season?

Let’s say we identified them through techs who give us feedback, football school officials, and even educators who quit. We have them on almost all football animation sets, but we don’t have a percentage. That is why we are going to launch this awareness campaign, with a video and also actions to map out next year, from the 2022-2023 sports season. Because the federation only mentions football with official referees, we know that, we have the numbers, but not with animated football.

Is this physical violence common?

A little less for the time being, but that’s why we want to warn them. And it is mainly to protect the three pillars of amateur football. Firstly, the educators: without an educator, fifteen children stay at home. Without umpires it gets complicated, so we also want to protect young umpires and club leaders who are destitute. These days it feels like it’s the parents’ game. While we want to give back the game, the fun to the kids.

Why do parents get angry, irritated, violent?

I think there are images of professional football that don’t help us. This is a first case. Second, they project themselves. Some think they have Benzema, Mbappe, while kids on the sidelines look at football differently.

Do you know how many educators throw in the towel and stop amateur football?

No, we don’t have numbers. So again, it’s a first in France, we are the first district to launch this “Don’t touch my football” campaignto enumerate all these indecencies accurately.

Because the Federation doesn’t? Doesn’t it help you in this battle there?

Let’s say she cares, and that’s normal, for competitive football. We are animated football. It’s up to us, local districts, to seize it. In addition, this campaign is taken over by many districts† This film will also be screened at the General Assembly of the Federation. It really covers all areas. And again, whether you are in the countryside or in the big cities, everyone is concerned. It’s not just in certain places.

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What do we see, very concretely, in this small two-minute clip?

We’re just seeing the reality: parents arriving quietly, maybe some starting to explain to the young umpire that he’s going to have to referee well today. And it screams. Of course we advise your child. And when a goal is disallowed by the young referee, the kids don’t understand why the parents get excited. Some go by the railing to explain to young referees or volunteers that there was a goal, when frankly it’s just football animation sets. There is no qualifying for the World Cup and the kids don’t understand.

They are “victims” of their parents’ aggressiveness?

All the way. And so we’re going to see through their eyes, through this two-minute video, the faces and expressions of the kids, who don’t understand themselves. After five minutes at the end of the game, whether they have won or lost, they have already moved on, while the parents chew the cud for a week. Because indeed, it happened, so and so, the coach has not let him play at all or he is in the B-team. There we really have to put the child back in the middle of the field.

What do you want to say to all the parents this morning?

That football belongs to the children, just doesn’t belong. And unfortunately I have to say it: often we visit the children because it is increasingly the children who are raising the parents, we have to be clear. We act through this film, also through the green chasubles that are placed at the beginning of the school year.

A green bib that parents will have to put on the property, right?

Not all parents. We’ll give two or three per club at the general meeting and the clubs will award it. It will also be a mark where it will say “Don’t touch my football” everywhere, and they will list all the inappropriate acts and send them back to the ward. We will then quietly call the chairman and tell him that team 8 of sector B is a problem in this and that place because parents are excited† If they don’t get it after two or three times, they’re just kicked out of the set. They go to phase two, to play friendlies, and they come back to phase three, if they understand.

“Parents are there to applaud, encourage, period. Not to yell at educators who give up, leaders who give up and umpires who stop or we’ll go straight into the wall.”

Does it make you sad to have to do this?

Yeah, but hey, it’s our role too. We are here to teach† This problem is not unique to football, it exists in other disciplines as well. Education through football is important and we really need to put the child first. The parents are there to applaud, encourage, period. Don’t yell at educators who give up, leaders who give up and umpires who stop, or we’ll go straight into the wall. We do it in a modest way on our scale.

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