It is up to a complainant to decide if they wish to proceed with a complaint. If a complainant did not witness what occurred or only heard about it from a third party, it is important to try to clarify what happened and obtain as many facts as possible before considering what options or steps might be appropriate. Before considering making a complaint, it may also be beneficial to understand some of the common issues that can arise in football. If a complainant is unsure if what to do, then they may consider the following:
Consider what may occur if a complaint is made or what may occur if a complaint is not made.
If you are unsure of what to do and it is a minor concern, consider monitoring the situation to see if there is still a level of concern or a repeat of the occurrence, or whether it may have just been a misunderstanding or something minor that occurred due to miscommuncation or difficult circumstances.
Consider whether speaking to the person directly may help clarify what actually happened or resolve the matter. If you approach the person with the intent to clarify what happened or if they are made aware of your concerns, they may be able to provide a reasonable explanation for what occurred or see the error of their ways, and if it was an accident or misunderstanding they may offer an apology or assurance that it won’t happen again. In many cases, it can be beneficial for the person to be provided with an opportunity to understand what you may have seen or heard and the concerns that you have and take steps to discuss, clarify and resolve.
Mediation is where a club official or another person may act as a mediator between to two parties involved. For example, if a parent is having a problem with a coach or another parent, a meeting may be arranged between the two parties with a club official or an impartial person acting as mediator. This way the problem can be discussed and resolved between the parties politely and respectfully in a managed setting.
The concerns of a club member can be discussed with the club MPIO, Secretary, President or another official of the club. This may also provide the club with an opportunity to monitor the situation themselves and take any steps they deem appropriate. A club may also discuss other options for resolving the matter or request that a written complaint be lodged.
An official complaint should be in writing and addressed to the Club Secretary. The person who lodges and signs a complaint must be able to be identified and should provide their contact details.
It is important to note that any person being complained about is entitled to be informed of the complaint and may be provided with a copy of the complaint and an opportunity to respond to the allegations.
Anonymous complaints are generally unable to be acted upon and are more likely to go unresolved.
Clubs have a duty to respond to complaints. Clubs should endeavour to act in the best interests of all parties involved and respond to a complaint as quickly, fairly and effectively as possible. If you are unsure as to what the process is for handling complaints at your club, contact the club MPIO or Secretary for further information. Clubs requiring advice regarding complaint handling should contact their Association or view the information provided below.
Breaches of the Code of Conduct
Here are some of the options available to clubs and associations when responding to complaints about or breaches of the Code of Conduct:
- Speaking with the coach about their behaviour
- Monitoring the coach to observe the reported behaviour
- Mentoring the coach on how to improve his/her behaviour
- Mediation between the aggrieved parties
- Requiring the coach to complete the Play By The Rules on-line training
- Requiring the coach to complete an accredited coaching course or other form of further education
- Issue of a written warning to the coach about their behaviour
- Taking disciplinary action
- Applying a sanction
- Suspending the coach from his/her duties for a period of time
- Dismissing the coach;
- or a combination of the above
Any action taken is at the discretion of the club or association or the relevant tribunal if applicable.
The complainant DOES NOT determine how their complaint is managed or what (if any) action or sanction is applied.
Where a coach or other team official identifies that an error in their behaviour has occurred or where a misunderstanding may have occurred, it can be beneficial to acknowledge this and offer a sincere apology as this can often result in clarifying the matter with a good outcome and resolution for all parties.
Complaint Handling Processes
When volunteering to help out at their child’s local club, parents often don’t expect that they might be involved in receiving and handling complaints from other parents and members. To assist volunteers in understanding general complaint handling processes, Play by the Rules provides information and free online training courses to help increase the capacity and capability of club volunteers and administrators in managing sport related complaints. Associations and clubs can develop their own complaint handling processes applicable to their organisation, ensuring the process includes the necessary complaint handling principles
If unsure of the complaint handling process at your club, contact your Club Secretary or Member Protection Information Officer.
If clubs require assistance in the management of complaints, contact your local Association for further assistance or consider completing the free Complaint Handling on-line training course for clubs and view the information provided below.
Complaint Handling Training
Play By The Rules offers a free online course is aimed at administrators, coaches, officials and anyone with an interest in the welfare of their club members.
The course is free and takes approximately 45 minutes and a certificate is provided once completed.
Complaint on behalf of a child
If making a complaint on behalf of a child, depending on the child’s age (particularly if the child is a teenager) and depending on the nature of the complaint, it may be beneficial to ask how the child feels about you making a complaint or what they would prefer to happen. It is also a good idea to clarify any details with the child about what happened that involved them and discuss any concerns they may have. This will also ensure that you have all of the facts before considering further steps. This is important particularly if you were not present and did not witness the occurrence yourself or if you are relying on second hand information from another person or source.
Complaint by a Child
Where a complaint is made directly by a child to a coach, manager or club official then the complaint should be noted and reported to the club MPIO or an appropriate club official. A complaint by a child, whether verbal or in writing, should never be ignored or disregarded.
Reporting Child Abuse
Although club officials and others who work and volunteer in sport are not mandatory reporters, in the event that a child discloses an incident of child abuse or an incident that made them feel unsafe or where a child’s safety or welfare may be at risk, it is important that concerns relating to the safety and welfare of the child are passed onto the Club, Association, Football NSW and/or the appropriate authorities. Refer to the Quick Reference Guide for child protection issues in sport. Reports of child abuse or neglect can also be reported to the NSW Family & Community Services (FACS) Child Protection Helpline on phone 132 111 (24hr helpline). Visit the Family & Community Services website for further information.
Policies & Guidelines