Abusive football followers given counselling instead of the red card

Pushy parents who get a little too vocal when watching their children play football could soon be offered anger management counselling.

Taking lessons from the speed awareness courses used by the police to warn motorists without putting points on their licence, the Football Association (FA) has created a new system whereby aggressive parents will be offered a place on local FA Respect courses.

The offer will be made available to those who breach the FA's Code of Conduct as an intermediary between the much more forceful option of preventing parents from watching their children play, telegraph.co.uk reports.

At the respect courses, parents will be given anger management counselling, along with a chance to see things from the referee's point of view. These examples include presenting parents with video footage of match-day problems which referees face on a day-to-day basis. They will also be quizzed on football's many rules, to show that they may not know more than the ref after all.

This decision was made when considering that some 4,000 offences were registered recently over the course of 15 months. Not only that, many of these were from adults and directed at referees who are often still children themselves.

Chairman of the Referees' Association, Albert Astbury, told dailystar.co.uk: "It's a sad state of affairs that the majority of discipline reports filed by referees at youth games are for adults.

"Some of the referees are as young as 14 and it's appalling that they are being abused by those who should know better."