The Football Association, which governs the sport in England, has told the Society of Editors the decision on whether to publish results should be left to the discretion of individual sports editors.
The FA wrote to the SoE in defence of a directive sent out last month to the Surrey Mirror, which advised the paper publishing score lines was “detrimental” to young players’ development.
The Mirror ignored the letter from the Surrey County Football Association, which urged it to cease printing the scores of matches featuring teams between the age groups of under-7 and under-11 following a review of youth football undertaken by the FA.
SoE executive director Bob Satchwell protested against the directive in a letter to FA chairman Greg Dyke, in which he said that “learning to be a magnanimous winner and a gracious loser is an important lesson in life”.
Bob has now received a reply from FA chief executive Martin Glenn, pictured above left.
His response states: “We agree that local newspaper sports pages play a vital role in documenting positive achievement of young people often against the tide of reporting elsewhere in the media but it is also the FA’s responsibility to ensure that youth football is presented in a form that is enjoyable, child-friendly and hopefully sparks a lifetime love the game.”
Mr Glenn said while the FA did not ban reporting of youth games, extensive feedback had called into question whether publishing results and league tables over a 26 week season was the best way to recognise the achievements of youth teams.
He added that the FA is asking editors to consider its concerns when publishing results and to note that those involved in youth football are given the opportunity to take part in a series of regular cup competitions of which the sporting body encourages “full and thorough” match reporting.
Mr Glenn said: “It is important to note that we do not discourage match reporting outright. We agree, individual achievements should be celebrated, but we just ask for sensitivity around the results and performance rankings.
“Ultimately it is the discretion of sports editors that will determine whether youth league results and league positions are published.”
“Our wish is for football to be progressive and child-friendly and to move away from the win-at-all-costs mentality that has been recognised to stifle development and enjoyment in sport.”
Bob has now called on regional FA representatives to make contact with their local editors to explain the guidance and the reasons behind it.
He said: “Encouragement of football at every level and the healthy, friendly rivalry that it engenders is an interest which should be a shared aim of the media and football authorities.
“I am sure you would agree that partnerships have to be developed and nurtured by positive two-way communication between those who share similar interests on the success of the game at every competitive level.”