A FOOTBALL association has issued a message to its players, coaches, parents and spectators after a rise in ‘serious incidents’.

Westmorland County FA has urged people to be ‘more considerate’ after ‘unprecedented’ levels of ‘unacceptable’ behaviour.

“We have recently seen a rise in the number of serious incidents being reported to us,” said a spokesman.

“Since the start of the year we are seeing an unprecedented number of cases spread across adult football and youth football. This includes the behaviour of not just players but spectators as well.

“Football is a game to be enjoyed by all and unfortunately a number of people have lost sight of what is and is not acceptable behaviour. Ahead of this weekend’s games we urge everyone to be more considerate, more responsible, and more respectful to everyone.”

The spokesman expressed the association’s disappointment that people were not taking notice of expected behaviour, particularly after the launch of its Respect Heroes campaign.

In January we launched the Respect Heroes campaign and despite this many have not got the message,” they said.

“Players you have a responsibility to not just be respectful to the referee but also to your opposition. If you feel aggrieved, then please inform your coach or match official.

“Coaches you have a responsibility to be always a role model to your players. Parents / spectators you also have a duty to be a role model. Your behaviour on the side lines has an effect on the behaviour on the pitch.

“This is grassroots football, not the world cup final.”

The number of incidents being investigated has had a detrimental effect on the association’s ability to support its clubs, according to the spokesman.

They added: “As a County FA we have not been able to spend as much time supporting our clubs and volunteers as well as running leagues and cups due to the high volume of incidents that are being investigated.

“This weekend please enjoy your football and remember why we are involved in the game we all love.”