Tensions, sometimes overflowing: violence remains a problem on and around football fields. To curb this phenomenon, some cantonal associations have taken measures, including training. At the end of the season, 15 Minutes magazine took stock in Geneva.
“Verbal violence, I think every referee has to deal with it on a regular basis. Physical violence, it remains a minority, but it is reality”. 21 years old, Léo* referee since 2015.
He himself had a difficult moment last October: “During a match in the 4th division, after sending a player away, he approached me with a rather aggressive approach, insulted me and spit on me”. Even if he confirms it wasn’t trauma, this event was “humiliating” for Leo: “I don’t referee for that”.
So, how to avoid this kind of event? On the edge of the field last Saturday in Vernier, during the juniors A, B and C cups final, the various actors they encountered seemed to be aware of the problem. Like this coach: “We have to set an example for our players. We try to tell them that it is still a football game and that their lives will not change tomorrow whether they win or lose it.”
Behind the barriers, supporters, who are the parents for many. This mother admits that it is sometimes difficult to keep calm: “Sometimes we tell other parents to rest somewhere else because they are too tense”.
“Not to be Care Bears”
In Geneva, the States General of Sport organized a solution to the violence in football after a competition in the lower class in 2018 that degenerated in 2018. Since then, various measures have been implemented, including training for coaches and managers.
But it’s a long-term job, says Pascal Chobaz, president of the Cantonal Football Association of Geneva (ACGF): “You don’t have to be carefree in the approach. It’s a job you believe in, but we will have to redo it. and do it again. It’s a steady job. And even doing all this, you’re not immune to a totally unpredictable event.”
The leader recalls that football concerns many people: “In Geneva there are about 20,000 licensees. If we add up all the people who are attracted to football and the spectators, we get to almost 100,000 people. You can train, punish players and coaches , but the people who come to the stadium you have few resources to prevent them from slipping”.
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Values to send
In recent weeks, leaders, in turn, have been entitled to training, then devoted to coaches. Yvan Constantin, coach facilitator, led one of the modules, focusing in particular on the role of the club and the values it should promote.
“These values should not only be chartered, but they should also be understood and embodied,” emphasizes the trainer. “I think the leaders are the first people to create exemplary behavior, which should then be transferred to the young people and the teams that make up the club.”
That evening many leaders and volunteers sit around the table. Kevin Gries, part of the UGS committee: “With this training we have taken a first step. We will then have to communicate and ensure a follow-up”.
But in addition to awareness and training, there is also a repressive dimension. This includes sporting sanctions, but a system has also been set up in Geneva to support referees in legal action.
Nicolas Hervieu-Causse, arbitrator and lawyer, is the protagonist: “The aim of this system, set up with the ACGF, is to have a preventive component, coupled with a repressive component. The arbitrator is of course free to decide whether not to file a complaint. We encourage them to do so.”
Léo, he took this step: “I hesitated for a while before doing it. But it’s important to set an example and file a complaint, because something like this should not happen”.
*name known to the editor
Katia Bitsch and Guillaume Rey