Football Association Wales tackles abuse of young players

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Media captionParents and officials at Cardiff Hibernian FC spoke about the issue

A campaign to stop parents and spectators shouting at children from the touchlines has been launched by the Football Association of Wales.

It says children as young as five are verbally abused, causing a growing number of youngsters to quit sport.

Wales manager Chris Coleman said children "need to be supported and encouraged from the touchline".

Sport minister John Griffiths added his support by attending the Behind the Line, Behind the Team launch.

The FAW says an "increasing numbers of children are withdrawing from football because of the untoward behaviour of others".

It has produced a DVD featuring Chris Coleman, which will be sent to schools and clubs around Wales.

An FAW spokeswoman said: "The main issues we have are with parents, or spectators in general, shouting abuse from the sidelines.

"A lot of the time spectators will be shouting at the children, 'how can you have missed that?' and so on, and ridiculing them in front of their peers, and making them not wanting to play sport.

"The main issue that we have come across is abuse being shouted at officials and players, as well as over-zealous supporters placing children under too much pressure to win."

'Just a game'

The spokeswoman said there had been reports of five-year-old children being shouted at, adding: "It's just a game at the end of the day."

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Media captionPeople in Aberdare tell Stephen Fairclough that parents can get "animated"

Chris Coleman said: "Children of all ages - whatever their ability - need to enjoy football.

"They need to be supported and encouraged from the touchline.

"Being negative and critical all of the time is no good to anyone."

As well as a DVD, the FAW has created a "safeguarding kit bag" containing "codes of conduct and example policies to make it as easy as possible to create a safe environment for children to play football in".

It says the campaign "aims to tackle both on and off the pitch behaviour by promoting best practice through educating players, coaches and spectators".

Clubs will also be encouraged to use barriers "to create a dedicated supporter zone, and serve as a reminder not to overstep the boundaries, both physically and psychologically".

The campaign was launched at Ysgol Glantaf in Cardiff on Wednesday.

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