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Players as young as 11 caught up in violence

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(stock picture)

(stock picture)

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Children as young as 11 have been in football matches abandoned because of violent or unpleasant incidents, the Herald can reveal.

Dublin and District Schoolboys League (DDSL) confirmed in a statement yesterday that seven matches have been abandoned in the past six weeks.

It is understood that of those, three were under-12 matches and one an under-13.

One under-14 game, an under-15 match and an under-16 game were also abandoned due to unsavoury incidents.

Striking

The league condemned the violence, which sometimes included adults striking out at children, and vowed to crack down on the culprits with fines and suspensions.

It feared the rise in violence 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," the statement said.

"Instead of setting a good example, unfortunately in a growing number of cases the choice is to verbally abuse or resort to violence."

A source said that since the DDSL statement, the league had received the full backing of clubs in its bid to bring an end to violence at matches. The schoolboy league - the biggest in the country - runs more than 25,000 games a year, the vast majority of which are played in the right spirit.

"If one match is abandoned due to violence that is one match too many," the source said, adding that players, parents and coaches who turn violent have no place in the DDSL or sport in general.

The league said that players involved in such incidents got a mandatory six-week suspension.

They 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 at least one division.

"Any further incidents will result in that team being removed from the league completely, and ultimately the club."

DDSL chairman Paddy Dempsey told RTE yesterday that players were influenced by the actions of adults.

"If this happened on the street, they would be arrested and charged with assault," he said, adding: "They should realise it's not acceptable in society, it's really not acceptable in sport and even more so with children's football."

Gardai said they did not comment on named organisations but if a complaint was made in relation to a criminal offence they would investigate.


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