This weekend Liverpool FC is backing a campaign by match officials across the country who will be wearing t-shirts bearing an important message for football fans everywhere.
As part of ‘Respect the Referee’ awareness weekend, referees and officials will don the shirts during their pre-match warm up to promote the Don’t X the Line campaign.
Don’t X the Line was established in 2003 by Malcolm Lee. Its aim is to support a zero tolerance policy towards constant aggression, verbal abuse, bullying and racist comments on and off the football field.
It looks to reach out directly to grassroots participation and so the initiative is aimed specifically at parents and supporters who are at the heart of bad touchline behaviour.
And this weekend, referees and officials will wear the shirts in order to raise awareness of the lack of respect in the game.
Liverpool’s Jamie Carragher has been one of a number of high-profile people within the game who has come out in full support of the scheme in the past.
Over the last eight years the campaign has worked with a host of Premier League clubs and is supported by the FA, the Premier League itself, the Professional Footballers Association (PFA) and the League Management Committee.
Over the weekend of March 10-11, the Don’t X the Line campaign is working together with The Premier League, referees and assistants to raise awareness for respect in football.
A Respect the Referee initiative in grassroots football is aimed at parents and spectators who are at the heart of bad touchline behaviour.
The Don’t X the Line campaign has been established since 2003 to support zero tolerance against aggression, verbal abuse, bullying and racist comments on and off the football field.
Over the last eight years the campaign has linked closely with a number of Premier League clubs, Mike Riley (General Manager of the Professional Game Match Officials Limited) and ambassadors Chris Foy (Premier League referee) and Liverpool’s Jamie Carragher.
“It is an honour to be asked to be an ambassador for the Don’t X The Line,” said Carragher. “I obviously started myself at grassroots level and I do understand the problem we have with referees and youngsters becoming increasingly under pressure from a minority of pushy spectators whilst participating in grassroots football.”
The campaign also receives the full support of former referee Keith Hackett, the Football Association, Premier League and the Professional Footballers Association.
Dont X the Line founder Mal Lee said: “I support referees as they make the decisions and that leaves them in the firing line from both sets of supporters.
‘Parents were picking up baseball bats’
“I started the campaign in December 2003. I have been involved for 30 years in grassroots football and have been involved in committees, as well as running teams.
“While I was a manager for an under 10s team I witnessed children crying because their parents were fighting each other, I saw parents in an under 10s game picking up baseball bats to use on each other, referees threatened and chased by irate parents, and committee members leaving because they had been threatened.
“I also witnessed a free for all in an under 12s match. Both teams and parents started a battle over a refereeing decision and the referee was chased.
“After witnessing these incidents and many more the time was right to start some sort of campaign.
“The campaign was developed and over the years has continued to get stronger. We have received fantastic support from our ambassador Keith Hackett, as well as Liverpool FC, Everton FC, Jamie Carragher, the FA, the Premier League, the PFA, the League Management Committee and the PGMOL.”
Don’t X the Line, the forerunner for the FA’s Respect programme, is a volunteer organisation. More information about the campaign can be found on the website: www.dontxtheline.com
With Grateful Acknowledgement to TOTAL FOOTBALL MAGAZINE