The FA have been told that they could be seen to be going ‘woke’ ahead of the National Silent Support Weekend. The scheme will mean that supporters at matches at grassroots level are limited to just applauding from the touchlines.
Fans are being urged to congratulate ‘good play’ regardless of the team and to refrain from shouting and talking on the sidelines. The FA has been met with both praise and criticism for the initiative, with some feeling a single weekend is not enough to stop poor behaviour from fans/parents.
In a statement released by the FA about the initiative, it read: “The aim is to reduce pressure on youth players at grassroots level and give them a better opportunity and environment to find their own voice, improve their on-pitch communications skills, develop their own game, and most importantly have fun.”
Some, though, feel that the FA has taken the wrong step in tackling the misbehaviour of individuals by rolling out a widespread plan that mutes positive influences. Others also believe that the initiative could be misinterpreted as being ‘woke’ by those who do not see how toxic some levels of football have become.
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Alan Moore, director of youth side Sedgley and Gornal United FC, told The Sun: “I applaud any initiative to stop some of the crazy behaviour I’ve seen, but this isn’t it. I don’t care if it’s woke or nannying, I just know it’ll take more than this gesture to solve the problem. I doubt people like that will be changing their ways because the FA says so.”
He went on to explain that recently he has had to file a complaint to the FA after a mum raced onto the pitch in an under-tens match to complain and swear about a tackle – behaviour that National Silent Support Weekend hopes it will eliminate.
Whether the scheme works remains to be seen, though FA chief executive Mark Bullingham explained previously that he has seen the benefits of the silence first-hand. He also stresses the need for players to ‘find their voice’, rather than supporters.
The FA also want to protect referees from abuse as well as players, with the feeling that the volunteers are being subject to mistreatment as that can be the norm at Premier League stadiums.
Those not willing to comply with the National Silent Support Weekend and the FA’s Respect Codes of Conduct could be asked to leave matches if they do not adhere to the rules.