Parents who fight at underage sports fixtures should be banned from attending matches, according to campaigners for better behaviour on the sidelines.
It comes after adults and children were involved in a brawl on the sidelines of a Wicklow GAA match over the weekend.
Wicklow GAA has said it is aware of reports of “totally unacceptable behaviour” at the Under-15 D final between Carnew and Kilcoole on Saturday.
“Wicklow GAA strongly condemns all such behaviour,” it said. “The CCC (Competitions Control Committee) will be investigating the incident fully and strong disciplinary action taken.”
This afternoon, Newstalk reporter Henry McKean travelled to Kilcoole to find out how the local community felt about the incident.
He also spoke to Antonio Montero from the Silent Sideline who has been comparing to get parents to behave at underage matches for years.
He said he wasn’t surprised at the images coming out of Saturday’s match.
“I think something is brewing, there just seems to be an anger,” he said. “I suppose people have been away from the side-lines for so long.
“There is some sort of a built-up aggression that people need to get out and they seem to be getting it out at children’s sport.
“It is something that has always happened, but it certainly seems to be happening more and more often now.”
He said the issue is not unique to Wicklow.
“This is happening all over the country,” he said. “In fact, it is happening all over the world.
“If you look at the UK now, there are thousands of games every weekend that are called off because they can’t get referees. It’s not happening to that extent in Ireland yet, but it is coming.
“In the UK, they have had to put armbands on under-18 referees to let the side-line know that is a child. So, don’t abuse them because they are a child – which is a kind of ridiculous because you shouldn’t be abusing a referee anyway, full stop.”
He said the GAA should get tough with anyone found to be fighting at a child’s sports game.
“I think if you have struck a youth, if you have hit a child, you have got to be looking at a lifetime ban for that,” he said.
“If you are involved in maybe trying to separate things and it got a little bit out of hand, you need some sort of a ban but maybe a lifetime one is too extreme.
“If you are a mentor … and you’ve struck a child it is very hard to see why you wouldn’t get a lifetime ban. I mean, something like that is going to stick with you forever anyway so you would probably want to remove yourself from that pretty quickly.”
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