Your guide to The FA’s Respect programme
Welcome to Respect
Respect is The Football Association’s
direct response to a clear message
from the grassroots game:
We must improve standards of
behaviour – on and off the field.
The message came through loud
and clear in the major survey The
FA undertook before publishing its
National Game Strategy earlier this
year – ‘Your Game, Your Say, Our Goal’.
The research involved 37,000 football
participants, including all major
stakeholders, in what has been the
most fundamental review to date of the
state of grassroots football in England.
Behaviour was – and is – the biggest
concern, both abuse and intimidation
towards referees, and unacceptable
behaviour by over-competitive parents
towards young players. That’s in
addition to aggressive coaches and
spectators on the sidelines.
For example, parental behaviour is one
of the main reasons why young players
drop out of the game. Furthermore,
as poor behaviour by coaches, parents
and players towards referees means
that thousands of officials are
dropping out each season. Players
and teams have told us they want
a qualified referee for every game –
well, let’s look after them and that
may just happen.
Respect is aimed at helping us all to
work together to change the negative
attitudes and abusive behaviour on
the sidelines and on the pitch. It’s
a long-term commitment, but if we
all play our part, together we can
really make a difference.
And it’s not just about football at
your level. It’s about football at every
level, which is why we’re glad to
be working in partnership with the
Premier League, Football League,
Professional Game Match Officials,
Professional Footballers’ Association
and League Managers’ Association to
improve behaviour in the professional
Chief Executive Officer
The Football Association
2 Respect Guide for Leagues Respect Guide for Leagues 3
Why football needs Respect 6
What is Respect 9
How will Respect work in practice 10
How to embed Respect in your league 12
The four steps to Respect 20
1. Codes of Conduct 20
2. Designated Spectators’ Area 21
3. Captain taking responsibility 23
4. Referee managing the game 25
Respect education programme 29
Welfare Officers and the Respect programme 30
Monitoring change in behaviour 33
4 Respect Guide for Leagues Respect Guide for Leagues
Why football needs Respect
The FA is responding to a plea
from grassroots football to tackle
unacceptable behaviour in football.
Respect aims to bring the fun back
to football for young players. Parents
and coaches pushing too hard and
pressurising impressionable children
for three points is having a negative
impact on their development and
enjoyment of the game.
Respect also aims to tackle the mass
drop-out of referees from football due
to abuse. 7,000 referees dropped out
of the game last season which has
led to the number of match officials
hitting its lowest level to date.
• 98% of referees have been
verbally abused and 27% have
been physically abused.
• One in three grassroots matches
are now played without a qualified
• 846 grassroots matches were
abandoned last year due to
unacceptable behaviour from
players and/or spectators.
• Parents and coaches want role
models in the elite game to
provide a positive example to
One of the team’s own linesmen
was unable to keep quiet at any
point during the game, shouting
abuse throughout and intimidating
It goes a bit too far when
the opposing manager
joins in as well, swearing
and cursing the ref.
Spectator, open-age football
The verbal abuse of players
from players and coaching
staff has got to stop.
6 Respect Guide for Leagues Respect Guide for Leagues
What is Respect
Respect is a continuous FA
programme, not a one-off initiative.
Its goal is to create an enjoyable
playing environment that allows
people to play, officiate and watch
football without being abused,
mocked, insulted, jeered, physically
assaulted, unnecessarily criticised or
pushed too hard.
Sound fair enough
So why does it happen week-in, weekout
at matches all over the country
For lots of reasons – people get
caught up in the emotion of a match
and forget that:
• People react better to
encouragement than criticism.
• Everyone’s doing their best –
whether a referee, coach, player
• Children are not adults; their
confidence can easily be destroyed
by abusive comments and constant
pressure from the sidelines.
What’s needed is everyone to take
responsibility for their individual
actions – verbal or physical –
and abide by common-sense
Leagues are in a pivotal position to
instil these standards. As you are
probably aware, The FA is going
to establish a quality accreditation
scheme for leagues, and those who
can demonstrate a commitment
to Respect will be well placed to
advance to FA Charter Standard
League status – and the benefits it
You can find out more about
The FA Charter Standard League
accreditation scheme by speaking
to the development team at your
County Football Association.
8 Respect Guide for Leagues Respect Guide for Leagues 9
How will Respect work
The Respect programme includes four
practical steps to improve behaviour –
on the pitch and on the sidelines –
in leagues such as yours throughout
These practical steps will help tackle
different behavioural issues in youth
and adult football.
Respect Codes of Conduct
There is a Code of Conduct for each
of the five main types of football
• Young Players
• Adult Players
• Spectators and Parents/Carers
• Coaches, Team Managers
and Club Officials
Each Code explains that actions can
be taken if broken. Further guidance
on the specific codes and actions that
can be taken by a club, league and/or
County FA will be given on application
to become a Respect league.
Designated Spectators’ Area
There will be a demarcated area
along the touchlines, within which
spectators must stay. The idea is to
encourage parents and spectators
to take a step back from the pitch
and support the teams in a more
Captain taking responsibility
There will be a drive to enhance
captaincy skills, encouraging captains
to take full responsibility for their
players’ actions and behaviour.
Referee managing the game
There will be a similar drive to
enhance referees’ match management
skills to create an environment where
potential problems are addressed
before they escalate.
Respect aims to support referees to
uphold the Laws of the Game.
The Professional Game
Clearly, the professional game has
a big role to play in demonstrating
Respect towards match officials
and in general. Here are the
five key steps to which the
professional game have agreed:
Referee managing the game
Captain taking responsibility
Pre-match briefing meeting with
referee and managers/captains
Team handshake before kick-off
Managing behaviour in the
For more details on these steps
go to www.TheFA.com/Respect
10 Respect Guide for Leagues Respect Guide for Leagues 11
How to embed Respect
in your league
Fundamentally, we need you to
accept and understand the four steps
to Respect outlined on page 10 and
then impart them to clubs, so in turn
they convey them to their players,
particularly team captains.
The four steps are covered in more
detail in pages 20-27 of this booklet.
To get all your clubs on board, we
suggest the following actions. Please
be aware that your league can sign
up to Respect at any point during the
season – it’s about you and your clubs
being ready to take this on.
First, take your time to read through
this information guide and also take
a look at the additional support
materials online at TheFA.com/
Respect. You will need to decide if it’s
something that your league would like
to support and something you would
champion to your member clubs.
Remember there isn’t a deadline – you
don’t have to join Respect for the start
of the season if you don’t have enough
time. You can join Respect at any point
during the season and we’d encourage
you to take time to get this right.
You can contact the Respect lead
officer at your County FA if you have
any questions at this point.
Get the agreement of your clubs
You will need to speak to your
member clubs to gain agreement
that they want to be part of the
Respect programme and proactively
promote good behaviour in football.
At Phase 3 you will be able to give
them more information and practical
support but at this stage you simply
need an indication of support.
Sign-up to Respect
Once your clubs have agreed that
they would like to be part of the
Respect programme, you need to
contact your County FA to advise
them. The County FA will have a
Respect lead officer who will answer
any of your questions.
You will need to fill in the application
form available from your County FA to
let us know what resources you need
for your clubs.
Host an information session(s)
Before the start of the season, you
will need to hold one or more club
information sessions, where you can
explain Respect and the role clubs are
expected to play.
The FA will provide you with the
required number of Club Packs to
distribute, once we have received
your application form.
Through the clubs, captains will
be expected to be briefed on what
‘Captain taking responsibility’ will
mean, so if you do hold a meeting at
one club, please encourage individual
team captains, where appropriate, to
be present to save time.
It’s vital that through you, clubs are
absolutely clear about what their
Overall, the key points to convey to
clubs at the information session(s) are:
• Do we need Respect
• The four steps to Respect.
• Detailed explanation of the
Designated Spectators’ Area.
• What does it means for clubs
• Managing any issues which arise.
• Agreeing actions clubs can take
– and those they should refer to
the league, or County FA.
If you run a youth league
Ideally, your County FA Welfare
Officer and your own League Welfare
Officer should be present at your club
information session(s), so they can
explain how best to get the Respect
message across to younger players.
Clubs’ own Welfare Officers should
also be invited. The role of Welfare
Officers covered in more detail in
page 30 of this booklet.
The league information session is
a good opportunity to discuss how
your member teams would want to
demarcate the Designated Spectator’s
Area. Do they want to use the
FA-endorsed spectator barrier and
should purchase these as a league
(see page 22)
Once you have held this session and
the clubs are clear, you are ready to
start on the road to Respect.
12 Respect Guide for Leagues Respect Guide for Leagues 13
Ongoing monitoring and evaluation
There will undoubtedly be teething
problems with some aspects of the
Respect programme, and it will
be refined over time. But we need
your help and feedback to make
The FA’s free Full-Time league
administration system will also
incorporate a Respect feedback area
for referees to tell us what’s working
and what’s not.
If your league already uses
Full-Time, you will be contacted with
details of monitoring how well or not
the Respect steps work in practice.
Referees appointed to your league
will also be asked to give feedback
on behaviour to help us monitor
if Respect can make a positive
difference and what aspects in
particular are working.
In turn, club secretaries, managers
and players can view league tables,
fixture results and a range of player
statistics. It dramatically reduces
the workload of league secretaries
and updates tables and fixtures
To see how Full-Time works, visit
www.TheFA.com/Full-Time. Also see
the inside back cover of this booklet.
If you are not on Full-Time, you
can still be involved in the Respect
programme and you will still have
an opportunity to feedback your
comments via the Respect lead
officer at your County FA.
Please see page 33 of this booklet for
more detail on how Respect will be
monitored and evaluated.
If your league does not currently use
Full-Time, we encourage you to come
on board. It’s free and enables league
secretaries to create league and
cup competitions in seconds, using
wizard-based technology, and guides
you through the entire process of
league set-up, fixture scheduling and
the inputting of player details.
14 Respect Guide for Leagues Respect Guide for Leagues 15
How to sign-up to being a Respect League
The FA needs to support long-term
change in attitudes and behaviour
to raise standards across the game.
So we have put in place a supportive
education framework, taking on
the best practices of the Respect
programme and making them
widely available to all participants
in the game.
This means all FA football courses will
feature Respect briefings and advice
on how to promote a safe, positive
It will also see the launch of a new
online parent-focused education
module – a new version of the former
‘Soccer Parent’ course. This is aimed
at helping parents/carers understand
how they can support their children at
football training and matches.
We encourage all leagues to
recommend to clubs that parents/
carers who attend matches should
take this short, free education module.
Leagues should also advocate FA
courses to coaches and club officials.
Further information can be found
on page 29 of this Guide (Respect
Independently, your County FA
Referee Development Officer (RDO)
will be briefing all the referees
appointed to your league about their
duties and responsibilities under the
The main elements of what
referees will be told is on page 25
of this Guide (Referee managing
Once leagues have signed up to
Respect, further guidance will be
given on the jurisdiction of clubs,
league and County FAs in dealing
with incidents of poor behaviour
and breaks of the codes of conduct.
If you have any questions on any
of the above, please contact your
County FA Respect lead officer. Once
you receive your club packs invite.
Read this booklet, visit www.TheFA.com/Respect
and speak to your County FA for guidance.
Get the agreement of your clubs
Speak to your clubs to see if they want to be involved.
Sign-up to Respect
Tell your County FA you’re in and fill in the application form
to order Respect packs for your clubs.
Host an information session
Invite your clubs to a meeting where you can explain what Respect is,
what it involves and hand out the Respect packs.
Ongoing monitoring and evaluation
If you’re on Full-Time throughout the season you will be asked
to answer some questions on behaviour at your clubs.
In October, The FA will launch an online parent-focused education module
and Respect briefings will be added into every FA course.
Further guidance will be sent to you to cover the levels of responsibility
your clubs, you and the County FA each have when dealing with
16 Respect Guide for Leagues Respect Guide for Leagues 17
They were dirty when they were losing,
and refused to shake hands at the end.
Player, youth football
18 Respect Guide for Leagues Respect Guide for Leagues 19
The four steps to Respect
Codes of Conduct
These can be read and downloaded
online at TheFA.com/Respect. They will
also be sent to you in printed form for
the club information sessions you hold.
It’s vital you understand their contents,
so you are aware of the standards of
behaviour expected by all football
participants – and what could happen
if behaviour falls below these standards.
You will need to advise your member
clubs on the correct use of Codes of
Conduct, so here’s some guidance:
For those clubs who already have
Codes of Conduct:
Codes of Conduct aren’t new and are
already in use by some clubs (they
are mandatory in FA Charter Standard
Clubs). Some are successful, some are
forgotten and not acted upon.
Respect brings them to life.
How By supporting and strengthening
the Codes of Conduct with possible
consequences. There is little point in
having a set of rules if no action is
taken if and when they’re broken.
There are five Codes of Conduct, and
each explains the action which can be
taken for breaking these ‘promises’.
The Codes are aimed at:
1. Young Players
2. Adult Players
3. Spectators and Parents/Carers
4. Coaches, Team Managers and
Respect works by placing
responsibility for their actions on
individuals: break your Code, and
bear the consequences.
Codes of Conduct – your member
Each Respect Code of Conduct
includes the potential consequences
of breaking a Code, so these are
understood from the outset.
Your member clubs have two main
responsibilities around the Codes:
1. To ensure everyone within the club,
whatever their role, has read,
agreed and accepted their relevant
Code – and understood the actions
which could be taken if Codes
2. To deal fairly and consistently with
anyone who breaks ‘their’ Code.
The FA Charter Standard Clubs in your
league already have their own club
Codes of Conduct, so we recommend
they look at the Respect Codes. They
may want to replace their existing
Codes with the new Respect ones,
or they may want to add elements of
It is not advisable to use both sets of
Codes as this could be confusing.
The important difference is ensuring
your member clubs – and through them
their own members – understand and
appreciate what can happen if Codes
are broken. That way, there should be
no subsequent debate because they
didn’t understand the consequences of
breaking a Code.
If a club hasn’t used Codes of Conduct
before – or has Codes without
consequences – this needs discussion,
so they understand how the Codes
work and what their responsibilities are.
Designated Spectator’s Area
One of the key elements of Respect
in youth football is the creation of
designated areas for spectators. In the
2007-08 season The FA ran a Respect
pilot in 16 leagues across England
and these spectator areas had a hugely
positive effect on behaviour. The barriers
literally draw the line across which
parents/carers and spectators should
This allows the coaches of both teams
to stand on the other side of the pitch,
meaning players get instructions from
just one side of the pitch.
The FA-endorsed Designated
Spectator’s Area tool kit (see overleaf)
is available for all leagues and clubs
to purchase. If you use this method
of demarcation (physical barrier) it
is recommended that you put the
Designated Spectator’s Area on one
side of the pitch – it is recommended
that fans and parents/carers from both
sides stand behind this barrier on one
full length of the pitch.
You may prefer an alternative form
of marking a Designated Spectators’
Area, but you must ensure it is safe
for both spectators and players.
20 Respect Guide for Leagues Respect Guide for Leagues 21
The FA strongly recommends you
obtain formal agreement from the
facility/pitch provider about which
method of marking is most suitable
for the pitch, before beginning any
work or buying any new equipment.
The safety of the players, officials and
spectators is paramount.
The Designated Spectators’ Area
should start two metres from the
touchline on one side of the pitch.
The area should run the full length of
the pitch. This means no-one should
be watching from behind the goals.
Where there is not enough room,
you must speak to the club and agree
what distance from the touchline
is realistic to ensure marked areas
are safe for players, match officials
The size of the area around home
pitches will dictate whether you are
able to use:
• Poles with tape
(ie the FA-endorsed method)
• Spray paint to mark the Designated
Both the poles and rope must be
removed in the interests of safety after
each game unless they are to be used
for subsequent matches that day.
Where cones are being used club
officials should ensure these are
still in place at the start of any
subsequent games to be played on
the same pitch.
Where spray paint is used, club
officials must check the lines have not
faded between games.
Official FA Designated Spectators’
Area tool kit:
• One metre high plastic poles with
retractable banding – featuring
• Plastic mallet
• Pole kit bag
• Pole kit guidance notes
Designated Spectator’s barriers can
be used in adult football and, in fact,
some adult clubs involved in the
Respect pilot saw a positive change
in spectator behaviour. There isn’t a
grant available at this time (the key
aim with the barrier is to promote
better parental behaviour in youth
football) but barriers can be bought
or adult clubs can use the
alternative markings detailed above.
More information can be found at
Talk to your league secretary or
County FA Respect lead officer if
you have any queries on this.
Captain taking responsibility
Often problems start at matches
when individual players are abusive
towards the referee, which escalates
into several players confronting
the referee at the same time – then
Respect aims to stop this cycle
before it starts. Only the captain
can challenge decisions made by
the referee and the captain needs to
manage his/her team to ensure this
is always observed.
In the separate Respect guide to
team captains (available as part of
the Respect club pack), here’s what
they’ve been told:
As a captain, you have no special
status or privileges under the Laws
of the Game, but you do have a
degree of responsibility for the
behaviour of your team.
To promote Respect the referee
will work with you, as the team
captain, to manage the players
and the game effectively.
22 Respect Guide for Leagues Respect Guide for Leagues 23
Even if you are some way away
from an incident when the referee
feels he/she needs you involved in a
discussion with a player, the referee
will call you over. This will ensure that,
as the team captain, you remain the
point of contact for the referee.
The type of behaviour which often
gives rise to problems in matches,
and where captains and referees need
to work together, can be described
as ‘harassment and challenging
behaviour’ towards the referee.
Here are some examples of each,
which are also contained in the
• Running towards the referee in an
• Players surrounding the referee to
protest a decision.
• Repeatedly asking questions about
decisions in an attempt to influence
the referee or undermine his/her
• Passing comment to other players
about a referee’s decision-making
• Repeatedly moaning at the referee
• Gestures that obviously are made
in a derogatory manner, such as
a shaking of the head or waving
of the hand.
• Ensure you wear a Respect
captain’s armband – these will
be provided by your league to
• Together with your opposition
captain, make yourself known to
the referee before the game.
He/she will ask if you are clear
about your responsibilities.
Captains have been asked to:
• Ensure all your players understand
what they can/cannot do in relation
to the referee and what is meant by
‘unwanted behaviour’. No-one’s
trying to curb enthusiasm – just
instil more discipline. This can only
benefit your match – and football
as a whole.
• Ensure your vice-captain (appoint
one if you haven’t got one) is
aware of these rules, in case you
are unavailable for a game, or have
to leave the field.
• Ensure every player in your team
has signed the Respect Code
• Visit www.TheFA.com/Respect
for further updates and tips for
Referee managing the game
There is a separate Respect information
booklet for referees, which incorporates
the following main information in
relation to the above:
As the referee, you are expected
to work with the team captains to
manage the players and the game
effectively. You must control the game
by applying the Laws of the Game
and deal firmly with any open show
of dissent by players. (e.g. not move
away from the incident, but stay and
deal with it).
While recognising that players may
on occasions make an appeal for
a decision (e.g. a throw-in, corner
or goal-kick), it is important you
distinguish these from an act of
dissent which should be punished
with a caution.
You should use a stepped approach,
where appropriate, to managing
2. Free-kick with quiet word.
3. Free-kick with public admonishment
(this is the time referees should
consider using the captain to more
visibly get the message across).
4. Yellow card.
The stepped approach does not
negate the fact that as the referee,
you have the authority within the
Laws of the Game to issue disciplinary
sanctions without recourse to the
captain(s), including issuing a yellow
or red card where the Laws require it.
Even if the captain is some distance
from an incident, but you feel you
need him/her involved in a discussion
with a player, you should call the
captain over. This will ensure the
captain remains your point of contact
during the game.
These guidelines should be seen as
an additional preventative/supportive
tool for referees to manage games
effectively. The key is to use captains in
a more visible way, where appropriate.
24 Respect Guide for Leagues Respect Guide for Leagues 25
I was disappointed that the away team’s
supporters were asked to move from the
touchline, so the chosen referee’s assistant
could see the whole of the line, but they
didn’t seem to want to. Not a good advert
at any level of football, particularly with
children in attendance.
Player, open-age football
of the managers complained I
was not being consistent in terms of
giving his team fouls and I was also
offered some ‘advice’ by a spectator
on another occasion. This obviously
helped undermine my authority.
Referee, youth football
26 Respect Guide for Leagues Respect Guide for Leagues 27
Respect education programme
Central to The FA’s commitment to
the Respect programme is the need
to build upon the physical measures
– such as the Codes of Conduct and
Designated Spectators’ Area – with
an education programme.
The programme will be delivered
by The FA’s educational arm,
FA Learning. It will comprise:
• Renewed content incorporating
Respect across relevant
FA Learning courses:
- Laws of the Game.
- Basic Refereeing Course.
- Age appropriate coaching
- Safeguarding Children
- Welfare Officers Workshop.
- Coaching Children Online.
- Psychology for Level 1 Online.
- Equality Workshop.
- Race Equality Workshop.
- Disability Equality Workshop.
- Coaching Disabled
- Emergency First Aid.
• An interactive online module
for football parents/carers
and spectators, launching on
TheFA.com in October.
• New content embedding the
Respect philosophy in all
FA Learning coaching awards.
• Behavioural standards and best
practice being at the forefront
of the way in which The FA’s new
licensed tutor workforce will work
across the grassroots game.
For more information on the
educational services available go
to www.TheFA.com/Respect or call
the FA Learning hotline on 0870
28 Respect Guide for Leagues Respect Guide for Leagues 29
Welfare Officers and
the Respect programme
Safeguarding children is an integral
aspect of the Respect programme. It’s
about raising awareness that bullying
and verbal, emotional and physical
abuse will not be tolerated in football.
The Football Association requires all
leagues and clubs with youth teams
to have a named Welfare Officer with
an ‘accepted’ CRB check for the club
to affiliate for the 2008-09 season.
League and Club Welfare Officers
should contact their County
Welfare Officer to find out about
opportunities for Welfare Officer
training and meetings.
As Respect is all about creating a
fun and safe environment, there are
specific ways in which League and
Club Welfare Officers can assist the
The League Welfare Officer should:
• Promote the Respect programme
as part of measures to safeguard
children in the league.
• Attend the Respect club
information session run by the
• Ensure Club Welfare Officers
are familiar with the Respect
• Monitor behaviour in the league
and feedback to The FA.
• Ensure the Respect Codes of
Conduct are distributed and used.
The Club Welfare Officer should:
• Promote the Respect programme
as part of the measures to create
positive football experiences within
• Attend the Respect information
session held by the league and
any such sessions held by the club.
• Help people to understand the
Codes of Conduct and to keep
within the Respect Designated
• Talk to the County FA Welfare
Officer if any incidents of bullying,
harassment, discrimination or abuse
arise in the club.
For further information on the role
of Welfare Officers please go to
30 Respect Guide for Leagues Respect Guide for Leagues
Monitoring and evaluation is key
to measuring the impact of the
Respect programme and The FA will
be collecting data from a variety of
sources. One way is through feedback
In leagues which use The FA’s Full-
Time League Management System,
and appoint referees to fixtures,
referees who have access to a
computer and the internet will be
able to log on and answer a few
quick questions about:
• The behaviour of the teams,
officials and spectators at
• Their own enjoyment of the
matches they officiate.
If your league is already using
Full-Time then go to www.TheFA.com/
Respect/monitoring to access the
information you need to set-up your
league which includes linking ‘your’
referees to the online feedback system.
For those leagues who were involved,
the system is very similar to the one
used in the Respect pilot.
If your league is not already using
Full-Time and wants to set up on The
FA’s system, go to www.TheFA.com/
FullTime to register.
Using Full-Time has many benefits,
beyond enabling your referees to have
their say about behaviour. County
Football Associations will also run
free workshops to introduce the wider
Full-Time services to leagues.
In addition to the behaviourmonitoring
via referees, we will
also be using a variety of research
methods across the game to gather
information on behaviour. These
will include surveys, interviews with
participants, focus group sessions,
message boards and the use of video
diaries with selected participants.
You do not have to use Full-Time
to be involved in Respect but we
recommend that you sign up to one
of the free workshops to be shown
the benefits of using it.
32 Respect Guide for Leagues
Respect Guide for Leagues 33
The red card
If you’re a football administrator, referee
or coach, did you know The FA can help
you carry out all your administrative
To kick-off, all you need is a FAN
(FA Number) – in fact, you’ve probably
already got one.
To obtain or ascertain your FAN and
password, go to www.TheFA.com/FAN
Then go to your County FA website, click
on ‘Member Services’, type in your FAN
and password – and away you go.
You can use the system to update league/
club information, pay fines, affiliate online
and file disciplinary reports – and a lot
more besides. And it’s absolutely free.
Contact your County FA to find out
about free Full-Time workshops.
34 Respect Guide for Leagues
The Football Association
25 Soho Square
T +44 (0)20 7745 4545
F +44 (0)20 7745 4546
36 Respect Guide for Leagues