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Junior football leagues clamp down on violent abuse.

SPECIAL teams of spotters are patrolling junior football pitches to catch yob parents dishing out touchline abuse.

An 11-strong group visits games in the Anfield junior league on the lookout for any possible disorder.

Last week the ECHO revealed the growing culture of parents turning children's football games on Mersey side into a warzone.

Referees have been quitting after mass brawls, threats being made against them and onlookers coming onto the pitch with weapons.

But league officials are fighting back and adopting a zero-tolerance approach.

Steve O'Reilly, who runs the Anfield league, said: "We get involved and stop anything sparking off before it happens.

"Some league officials stay in their huts, but we are out all the time watching.

"I tell parents and managers to come and speak to me if they have a problem - come and rant at me, not the ref."

Fathers aged between 40 and 45 have been identified as the worst offenders.

The Anfield league was the first to adopt the acclaimed Don't X The Line scheme to halt the rise in violent incidents from verbally abusive fathers.

The number of referees willing to take charge of junior matches is in decline, with many deciding to quit.

Cronton primary school teacher Kevin Quigle says the problem has spread into school matches. The Wrexham School of Excellence coach is planning to write to the Football Association to complain about growing yob behaviour in children's football.

He said: "I've seen a lot of football and Liverpool is one of the worst affected areas. Their role models are their parents who are failing to teach them any moral values.

"It's win at all cost and referees are tormented if they make a mistake. Only last week I was getting called a cheat."

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NO NONSENSE: League boss Steve O'Reilly
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jul 3, 2006
Words:301
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