Verbal and physical aggression in youth football: the role of the social environment


  • S. Mollen
  • M. Fransen


Background: Even though the number of reports of antisocial behaviour in football in the Netherlands has declined, physical and verbal aggression remain a matter of concern. Survey research into the determinants of aggression in football points to the importance of the social environment, particularly the role of the coach and team norms. However, to gain a more in-depth insight into social influences and dynamics, associated with physical and verbal aggression in youth football, a qualitative approach needs to be taken. Method: For this purpose, semi-structured interviews with referees (n=3) and coaches (n=4) and six focus groups with young male football players (11-13 years old; n=35) were conducted. The focus groups were conducted with players to capture (part of) the team interactions and dynamics. Interview guides were developed to explore antecedents of and possible solutions for aggression and the role of the social environment (i.e., referee, parents, coach, players) in these processes, as well as (team) norms regarding different forms of aggression. Data will be analysed with ATLAS.ti, using a Grounded Theory approach. Expected results: The results are expected to provide insight into how verbal and physical aggression may arise during a football match and the role that important social actors and team norms play in this. Discussion: The current research will add to our understanding of social influences in aggression, particularly in the domain of youth sports. And provides a starting point for the development of an effective intervention.





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