Immediate and Vigorous response to ensure safety and sportsmanship at CalSouth fields
Recently, a fight escalated into a weapons scare and mass panic at a youth soccer tournament in Temecula. In response, soccer organizations across the region have been looking to improve their safety guidelines and emergency procedures.
According to reports, Cal South executives held an emergency meeting to formulate a response and improved safety procedures.
See Cal South’s full statement down below. Here is a summary of the actions taken by Cal South:
Both teams have been suspended from all Cal South events pending an investigation.
Coaches, players, administrators and the spectators from both teams in this incident are suspended and ineligible to participate in any Cal South sanctioned tournaments. Cal South will be holding hearings and conducting an investigation. This matches one of the recommendations Michael Duggan expressed last week when I spoke with him.
Both teams must participate in Cal South’s investigation.
Cal South is insisting that both teams fully participate in the investigation. If they do not fully cooperate, there will be strict consequences. Cal South’s statement does not specify if the individual teams or their entire clubs will face expulsion from Cal South if they do not cooperate with the investigation. Expulsion from Cal South, though, is a possible consequence for teams that do not comply with the investigation.
Added security and safety measures
Cal South has added staff and referee coordinators at all venues. More importantly, security and/or police will be on site at every State Cup and National Cup venue. Staff members will conduct spot inspections to make sure teams are following safety and sportsmanship policies.
Separating sidelines of spectators
Previously, both teams’ coaches and their players would be together on a single sideline. The parents and spectators would line up across the field on the other sideline. The spectator group for a team would line up on the side directly across from their team.
Cal South is now instituting a “Home and Away Sidelines” policy. The coaching staff, the players, and their own spectators will all be together on the same sideline. The opposing team and spectators will be across the field. This policy will keep players and spectators from opposing teams separated.
ADVICE TO SPECTATORS: When you are setting up your chairs and blankets along the sideline, remember that the Assistant Referee (“AR,” with the offside flag) runs along the sideline on the RIGHT side of the coach. Do your best to set up your viewing spot to the left of your coach so that you are not affecting the referee’s important work.
Mandatory “Meet and Greet” before every game
Before every game, the referee crew will conduct a “meet and greet” with both teams’ coaching staffs. This will be a required meeting where the referee will re-communicate conduct expectations, and the coaches will agree to behavior standards. Previously, coaches have usually conducted this informal meeting on their own, meeting and shaking hands before a match. Now, Cal South is ensuring the coaches and the referee crew will meet before each match.
As of this article’s publishing, no incidents were reported at Cal South events this past weekend. Kudos to Cal South for taking swift action and instituting procedures and added security for families participating in “The Beautiful Game.”
Here is the full statement from Cal South:
“Cal South is dedicated to providing a safe and enjoyable athletic experience. Adherence to Cal South’s standards for appropriate conduct, respect, and safety are mandatory. This applies to players, coaches, administrators, referees and spectators. Violations will not be tolerated and will be adjudicated to the fullest extent.
“On January 12, 2020, an incident occurred at the Albion Soccer Club Development Showcase. An already heated soccer match was disrupted when an older sibling of one of the players came onto the pitch and assaulted an opposing player. Before the referees could address the situation and restore order, other spectators came onto the pitch. The resulting melee was intensified by unsubstantiated claims that a spectator possessed and was brandishing a ‘weapon,’ which caused concern and panic throughout the venue. The authorities quickly responded to the complaint, conducted an initial investigation and confirmed the safety of the participants and supporters. Cal South treats this incident with the utmost seriousness. The behavior demonstrated by the persons involved will not be tolerated.
“Cal South is investigating the situation with its affiliate member and the authorities, and while we review the incident, we are taking the following interim measures:
- Due to the seriousness of the situation, both participating teams, their coaches, players, administrators and the spectators involved in this incident are suspended and ineligible to participate in any Cal South sanctioned tournaments until Cal South completes its investigation and holds hearings.
- Failure of any team or its staff to participate in Cal South’s investigation will result in further disciplinary action up to and including de-registration from all Cal South sanctioned leagues.
“Further, effective immediately, Cal South is implementing the following interim safety measures for the upcoming State and National Cup competitions:
- On-site security personnel and/or law enforcement will be present at all the State and National Cup events throughout the State and National Cup Season. During the opening weekend of State Cup scheduled for January 18 and 19, the affected venues are Ryan Park in Escondido; Galway Downs in Temecula; Silverlakes Sports Complex in Norco; and the San Bernardino Soccer Complex.
- The number of on-site Cal South personnel will be increased and spot auditing will be performed to assess and ensure compliance with Cal South safety and sportsmanship policies.
- The number of on-site Referee Coordinators will be increased.
- A “Home and Away” side initiative will be implemented and enforced to separate teams and supporters.
- Coaches of participating teams and referee officials will be required to conduct a meet, greet and introduction session at the center circle prior to the start of each match.
- Cal South’s Code of Conduct Policies will be re-communicated and reaffirmed to all coaches, administrators, and players participating in the competitions.
“In addition, over the upcoming days, weeks, and months Cal South will be reviewing additional security and other measures, including, but not limited to, emergency evacuation plans, procedures, and training at facilities, working with referees to create a safer playing environment and holding coaches and clubs more accountable for the behavior of participants and spectators.
“We understand that this incident has had an effect on many spectators and witnesses. To assist those persons, we are providing telephonic access to emotional support for anyone in the Cal South community. The service is provided by trained behavioral health counselors, is completely confidential, and offered at no cost for the next 30 days. The number to call is (866) 315-7370.
“We wish to express our gratitude for the multiple inquires and recommendations received in the aftermath of this incident and we will respond to those inquiries. We look forward to working with the entire soccer community to ensure the safety, well-being and enjoyment of all participants. We will keep our members informed of the next steps to be taken.