After the often-criticised-yet-actually-successful Respect campaign (over 40% of players, ref’s and managers have seen an improvement at all levels of the game) The FA are kicking off 2011 with a new Respect initiative aimed at improving football for everyone and putting some much-needed cash back into the game.

The Football Association has taken a radical new approach to tackling bad behaviour from fans and players by launching its own football club Respect F.C. The aim of the club is not to win silverware or secure a Champions League place; its goal will be to unite fans against the ugly side of the beautiful game to create a safe and enjoyable environment in which it can take place.

Appointing comedian and avid Bristol City fan Mark Watson as Chairman, the Club has been founded through concern from both the top level of the game and the grassroots community around abuse towards referees and poor sideline behaviour. Respect F.C. is not your usual football club; it˘ a football club made up of people from all walks of life, with one collective goal Ĺ› to bring Respect back to the game we all love.

For every fan that joins Respect F.C., The FA has pledged to put £1 back into the Respect initiative within grassroots football (up to the value of £50,000).

Rallying fans to get behind Respect F.C., Chairman Mark Watson has filmed an impassioned plea from the Club˘ modest headquarters, which features starring roles from former Liverpool captain Neil ‹Ĺ›Razor˘€žË˜ Ruddock, Portsmouth legend Steve Claridge and Sky Sports commentator Chris Kamara.

There’s a lot to love in this video, especially seeing Liverpool legend ‘Razor’ Ruddock ruining a child˘ birthday party by barking abuse at the children˘ entertainer and singling out the birthday boy for some special attention for passing the parcel too slowly.

Having a couple of younger siblings, I’ve been to more youth football games than I can care to remember it rings all too true that there are mouthy idiots on the touchline, screaming abuse at other peoples kids and even threatening to get physical with young lads a third of their age.

And let’s face it, we’ve all seen it in even the best amateur leagues at adult level too – most people get out of bed on a rainy weekend morning to play football, not have a slanging match with someone they’ve never met before!

Respect F.C. is not just about raising awareness; it˘ much more than that. Everyone who is involved in the game in some way is aware of poor behaviour and knows that Ĺ› be it towards referees, players or fellow fans Ĺ› it is wrong. The challenge now is to unite, change people˘ attitudes and make them realise that verbal and physical abuse are not acceptable in the game.

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