Van-Tam vows to fight abuse in grassroots football

The new chair of Lincolnshire Football Association (FA) has criticised "disgusting" behaviour from players, coaches and parents.

Prof Sir Jonathan Van-Tam told BBC Radio Lincolnshire there has been an increase in racist, sexist and homophobic abuse in grassroots football in the county and has pledged to tackle it.

He said that already this season there had been 51 cases of discrimination.

"It's disgusting and it's wrecking our game," he said.

"It's made worse when you realise that the vast majority of perpetrators are adults and a lot of it is directed at our referee community.

"And 60% of our referees in grassroots football are under the age of 18."

Sir Jonathan said he had witnessed incidents while watching his sons play.

He wants a change in national FA rules so that the individuals involved are sanctioned for bad behaviour, rather than clubs.

"I'm going to try and convince the FA that actually all parents and spectators, certainly in the under 18s game, need to be seen as activate participants and therefore directly subject to personal bans and so forth."

Boston United supporter Sir Jonathan took on his new voluntary role with the FA last summer.

As England's former deputy chief medical officer he became a household name during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He was knighted in 2022 for his public health work.

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