Schoolboy football matches called off as adults attack players
Children as young as 11 have been involved in schoolboy football matches that had to be abandoned due to violent or unsavoury incidents in recent weeks.
In a statement yesterday, the Dublin and District Schoolboys League (DDSL) confirmed that seven matches have been abandoned in the past six weeks.
It's understood that of those, three were under-12 matches and one was in the under-13 age group.
One under-14 game, an under-15 match and an under-16 game were also abandoned due to unsavoury incidents.
The league condemned the violence, which included some incidents of adults striking out at young children, and vowed to crack down on those involved with fines and suspensions.
The lengthy statement said it feared that the rise in violent incidents could lead to serious injury.
"On more and more occasions adults now become involved in these incidents, ending with them verbally or physically striking out at young players," it said.
"Instead of setting a good example, unfortunately in a growing number of cases the choice is to verbally abuse and/or resort to violence," it added.
A source said since the DDSL statement, the league has received the full backing of the clubs in their bid to bring an end to violence at matches.
The schoolboy league - the biggest in the country - runs over 25,000 matches annually, the vast majority of which are played in the right spirit and pass off peacefully.
If one match is abandoned due to violence "that is one match too many," the source added, saying that players, parents and coaches who engage in violence have no place in the DDSL or in sport in general.
The DDSL said that players involved in such incidents get a mandatory six-week suspension.
It said a club fine and a six-point deduction will be imposed for the first offence and for a subsequent offence the team will be relegated by at least one division.
"Any further incidents will result in that team being removed from the league completely and ultimately the club," it said.
Speaking to RTÉ yesterday, DDSL chairman Paddy Dempsey said players are influenced by the actions of adults.
"If this happened on the street, they would be arrested and charged with assault.
"The sooner they realise it's not acceptable in society, it's really not acceptable in sport and even more so with children's football," he said.
Gardaí said that while they do not comment on named organisations, if a complaint is made to them in relation to a criminal offence they will investigate.