Football Vlaanderen punishes more aggression: “The culture must change” | football

The amateur football season has only been going for a few weeks and the messages and reports of aggression are getting out of control. Het Nieuwsblad published some shocking figures today. However, Voetbal Vlaanderen launched the #doedegijdatthuisook campaign about sportsmanship. Coordinator Nand De Klerck confirms the phenomenon: “We have to intervene strongly on the 1 percent of matches that go wrong. The culture must change.”

“If we look at what we have already experienced this season regarding aggression in the broadest sense of the word, we come to 190 files that we had to call our Disciplinary Committee,” De Klerck told our editors.

There is clearly a difference between the period before and during corona. “We notice that the fuses are a little shorter after corona, and a Dutch scientific study has now also shown that. We see that there are more such serious cases. And that worries us a little.”

“For this particular season, we have never invested so much in behavior and standards and values ​​around the football field with our action plan #doedegijdatthuisook.”

“For us these figures are very alarming and we would urge everyone who comes to a football ground to behave themselves.”

“On the one hand because the sanctions are equivalent, on the other hand we must be an example for all football children who later also want to be on a pitch and also want to be a football parent in a good way.”

Just this season we have invested so much in behavior and standards and values ​​with our action plan #doedegijdatthuisook

Nand De Klerck from Football Flanders

“I have the feeling that people at football suddenly drop all norms and values ​​in normal society.”

The action plan’s nice words are obviously not always heard, on the contrary: the aggression is getting worse. De Klerck sees a twofold explanation. “On the one hand, Voetbal Vlaanderen organizes a lot of matches, no less than 230,000 matches per season.”

“So it makes sense that there are many more incidents with us compared to other sports. Because we mobilize many more people.”

But there is also another side where De Klerck puts his finger on the wound. “I also have the feeling that people who come to football suddenly drop all the norms and values ​​that exist in a normal society.”

They shout at children, they shout at the referee, they are aggressive. We must work on a culture change from an early age

Nand De Klerck from Football Flanders

“They yell at kids, they yell at the referee, they are aggressive… We really need to get rid of that. We need to work on a culture change from an early age.”

“We are trying to do that with our #doedegijdatthuisook action plan (to promote sportsmanship) and our Come Together action plan (against racism and discrimination), which was launched a year ago in collaboration with KBVB. We will continue to work on that on, but it’s a long-term job.”

Awareness raising and sanctioning

Sensitization is one thing, punishment is another. But it happens, says De Klerck. “In the 190 cases, there have been severe punishments. You must not forget that we already have a very strong disciplinary end piece. People with many capacities assess the situation and impose certain suspensions or fines and the like.”

“The sanctions are already bad, we will see if we have to shift gears there as well in the future.”

De Klerck has also noticed that there are also many incidents in professional football, just look at the shirts in recent weeks. “It works together. For me it’s about the whole football community as a whole. It’s about culture.”

“Whether it’s the culture of youth/amateur or professional football, it’s pretty much the same. It’s the same people who are going to watch those games. It’s about the whole football community, whose culture change we want to see as soon as possible has to realize.”

De Klerck ends with a positive message: “For me, football is still the most beautiful sport. In 99 percent of our matches, nothing happens, but the one percent where things go wrong, we have to intervene strongly.”

It is about the entire football environment – youth/amateur and professional football. It works together. We need to realize the culture change as soon as possible

Nand De Klerck from Football Flanders

“Other reports on our hotline also exploded”

Since last year, you can also more easily report aggression, discrimination or other incidents with the association’s RBFA App as a user (player, coach, referee, supporter, driver). Of course, that lowers the threshold.

But these do not explain the higher aggression figures at all,” says De Klerck: “The 190 are official reports drawn up by judges.”

“Furthermore, you still have our entire operations around the reporting center. And these are different numbers. They tend to overlap.”

“But there are other cases that are reported, I’m thinking about cross-border behaviour, racism, issues with membership fees and opportunities to play… We’re also dealing with those cases and we’re also seeing an explosion in the number of reports.”

“Last season we received 676 reports at our reporting center, this season we’re already at 237. That’s a staggering number. But it’s also because we have a proactive and active policy where we ask that everyone report everything. “

“It doesn’t immediately mean that the situation has worsened enormously. It’s just the first time we’ve received everything. People know where to find us and also know that we’re doing something about it.”

It concerns cross-border behaviour, racism, problems with membership quotas and opportunities to play…

Nand De Klerck from Football Flanders

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