Skip to main content

No Excuse For Sideline Abuse

No Excuse For Sideline Abuse

Whether you’re involved in sport at the elite level or watching a team of enthusiastic five-year-olds bouncing, passing or kicking a ball in the grassroots environment, it’s possible you might have seen poor sideline behaviour in sport at some stage.

Although the vast majority of spectators cheer and support their kids and teams with joy and passion, there are growing instances where verbal and online abuse is directed at players, referees, coaches, support staff, other spectators and even volunteers.

It has an impact not only on the mental health of individuals but on the people around them and is being seen as a continuing threat to the integrity of sport in Australia and overseas.

In September 2022, we published a story in Sport Integrity Matters magazine about “The Ugly Side of Sport” after speaking to a referee, coach, club volunteer, player and journalist to get their perspectives on the toll sideline abuse is taking.

Reflecting on his own career Ben Williams, a retired A-League, Asian Football Confederation and FIFA World Cup referee, said: “Unfortunately many young referees don’t get to experience these phenomenal moments because they’ve left their career early due to abuse.”

In my career I encountered death threats directed at my wife and my children, which meant they no longer felt safe in their own home. There is definitely no place for this in sport.”

A community sports club president, Neil Harlock, cited a scourge of abuse in his sport which not only impacted the mental health of players but flowed through to club volunteers, the referee base and spectators.

To hear threats and slurs from the crowd firstly renders as disbelief among the team, clear shock and emotion can be seen, which then affects performances,” he said about the abuse directed at his National Premier League first grade men’s team.

It then manifests as insecurity as this is essentially their workplace for the time they are on and around the field.

At the grassroots and amateur level in a very large club essentially run by volunteers, we often feel limited in what we can do from a safety and security point of view. There’s the feeling that there’s a potential and very real danger.”

Discussions between sporting organisations, clubs and government suggest that some sports are becoming increasingly competitive from a younger age with high emotion attached from the spectator base, thus leading to undue pressure being placed on kids which flows through to coaches and officials. 

Let Kids Be Kids is a national campaign created by Play by the Rules to help clubs at grassroots level bring policies to life and actively address poor sideline behaviour via posters, toolkits and campaign messaging.

Elaine Heaney, National Manager of Play By The Rules, would much rather kids turn up to practice and had fun playing with their friends than forced into a situation where they are being yelled at or berated for not winning a game or making a call whilst they are still learning the rules and developing their skills. 

Adult sideline spectators often mean well and are enthusiastic about their contributions, because they enjoy being part of the process,” said Elaine, “but sometimes it’s important to stop to think about the impact of their words on the child or young person – and how it feels for a small human to have a large adult raise their voice at them.

If the child or young person (or even another adult) feels berated or upset by what has been said, is it worth it?  It’s not about removing winning or healthy competition from sport but about focusing on the fact that happy, healthy athletes operating in a safe space, often produce much better results, and keep people playing the sports we love.”

From grassroots to elite sport, the problem often grows as the stakes get higher.

Jenna O’Hea, former Australian Opals captain, feels the popularity of betting has added another layer of abuse of athletes with people losing money often blaming the athletes for their financial loss.

This is where I see it is getting worse and is taking the biggest toll on athletes,” she said.

As athletes we know that fans are passionate about sport but crossing the line with personal attacks, racism, any type of attack is never OK and just because you’re behind a keyboard, that doesn’t make it any less abusive than a face-to-face attack.”

Each situation and experience with poor sideline behaviour and online abuse in sport is different, with some impacts short-term and others everlasting. Regardless of the magnitude and severity there’s no place for sideline abuse in sport at any level.

In summing up his experiences, community club president Neil Harlock said, “My seven-year-old daughter came to me recently and said ‘Dad, were there any fights at the footy today?’ I was mortified!

Our children deserve more than this. Our players, volunteers, young referees, coaches and the families who come to cheer on their teams, all deserve more than this.”

Public Statement on Assessment of Out-of-Time Appeal by Allan “Rejin” Petersen

Public Statement on Assessment of Out-of-Time Appeal by Allan “Rejin” Petersen


The Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC) remains resolute in its mission to maintain fairness, integrity, and transparency within the esports industry. In alignment with our commitment, we have meticulously reviewed an out-of-time appeal submitted by Allan “Rejin” Petersen in May 2023, concerning a sanction originally imposed in 2020. The substance of the appeal was related to the post-facto Valve RMR sanction imposed by Valve independently and in response to ESIC’s original sanction. Importantly, the result of ESIC’s review does not modify the ESIC-imposed sanction but significantly affects the post-facto Valve RMR sanction.

Overview of the Appeal

Mr. Petersen was initially assigned 8 demerit points as a result of ESIC’s investigation into his involvement and incorrect response to the CSGO coach bug. This decision was reached after a comprehensive investigation, and the demerit points assigned to Mr. Petersen were subsequently and independently recognized by Valve and translated into a secondary Valve RMR sanction banning Mr. Petersen from Valve Majors for life.

While the original sanction by ESIC remains unaltered our adherence to the principles of natural justice and equitable treatment prompted the acceptance of the appeal, even though it was submitted almost three years after the initial sanction was imposed. The ESIC Independent Appeal Panel and the ESIC Commissioner have conducted an exhaustive review of the case, considering new evidence presented by Mr. Petersen.

Mr. Petersen has successfully substantiated that the extent of the bug exploitation was not as initially calculated. Acknowledging this new evidence and in pursuit of equity and fairness, the demerit points assigned to Mr. Petersen have been recalculated and reduced from 8 to 5.

Implications of Appeal Result

It is important to note that this recalibration does not modify the ESIC-imposed sanction (meaning ESIC in this statement is not modifying its initial sanction) but significantly affects the post-facto Valve RMR sanction. The revised demerit points alleviate the lifetime ban from Valve Majors, imposing a restriction from 5 Majors instead. Following this period, Mr. Petersen will regain eligibility to coach in subsequent Majors.

Importantly, ESIC has communicated the result of the appeal to Valve and has received notice that the result of the appeal has been accepted by Valve.


ESIC extends its appreciation to Valve for facilitating open and collaborative communications on this matter and for reviewing and accepting the appeal.

ESIC also acknowledges Mr. Petersen for his cooperation and transparency throughout the investigation process. His prompt admission and invaluable contribution, notably being one of the first coaches to disclose the existence of the bug, were instrumental in facilitating our inquiry.

ESIC is unwavering in its commitment to safeguarding the core values of the esports industry and will continue to implement rigorous measures to ensure fairness and integrity. Our resolve to uphold the highest standards of integrity within the esports industry remains steadfast.

The FIFA Disciplinary Committee opens disciplinary proceedings against Luis Rubiales, President of the Spanish FA

The FIFA Disciplinary Committee opens disciplinary proceedings against Luis Rubiales, President of the Spanish FA

The FIFA Disciplinary Committee informed Luis Rubiales, President of the Spanish Football Association, today that it is opening disciplinary proceedings against him based on the events that occurred during the final of the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ on 20 August 2023.

The events may constitute violations of article 13 paragraphs 1 and 2 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code.

The FIFA Disciplinary Committee will only provide further information on these disciplinary proceedings once it has issued a final decision on the matter.

FIFA reiterates its unwavering commitment to respecting the integrity of all individuals and strongly condemns any behaviour to the contrary.

Integrity Task Force concludes monitoring of FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™

Integrity Task Force concludes monitoring of FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™
  • No suspicious betting or match‑manipulation threats identified during the 64 matches

  • Second successive edition of FIFA Women’s World Cup™ to have been monitored

  • Task force composed of members from expert organisations


The FIFA Women’s World Cup Integrity Task Force, which was established to safeguard the competition from match‑manipulation and integrity-related threats, has recently concluded its successful work in monitoring the betting markets and in‑game action in real time during all 64 matches at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023™.

At its post-competition meeting held today, the task force concluded that no suspicious betting activities or match‑manipulation threats had been identified around any game that took place during the tournament. This was the second edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ to be monitored by the task force, which was launched ahead of the 2019 finals.

The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 Integrity Task Force comprised representatives from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, INTERPOL, the Council of Europe’s Group of Copenhagen, United Lotteries for Integrity in Sports, the International Betting Integrity Association, Sportradar, Sport Integrity Australia and the New Zealand Police.

During the competition, FIFA centralised the collection of information from betting monitoring reports based on market activity data from various jurisdictions, including law enforcement entities and physical surveillance at competition venues.

The monitoring of both the betting markets and in-game action in real time during all of the group- and knockout-stage matches through to the final, which was played on 20 August, found no match‑manipulation threats.

The collaborative effort between FIFA and key international stakeholders in the field of sports integrity ensured an experienced, coordinated and timely response – based on information and data – to any alert during the competition, with each participating stakeholder contributing their specific expertise (investigative and/or technical) throughout the tournament.

In parallel, FIFA continues to work with confederations, member associations and other integrity stakeholders in the fight against match manipulation. In line with its core objective to promote the integrity of football, FIFA takes the battle against match manipulation very seriously and any suspicious activities can be reported via its confidential, dedicated, highly secure and web-based whistle-blowing system.

Further details of FIFA’s integrity initiatives are available here.

Public Statement on Disciplinary Action Against Participant Flynn “Deluxe” Smith

Public Statement on Disciplinary Action Against Participant Flynn “Deluxe” Smith

The Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC) is dedicated to maintaining the highest standards of integrity and fair play within the esports industry. In the interest of transparency and public confidence, we are issuing this statement to inform the public about a recent disciplinary action taken against a participant in an esports event.

Overview of the Case

During the a match played on 24th February, esports participant Flynn “Deluxe” Smith was alleged to have engaged in corrupt behavior, which contravened the ESIC Anti-Corruption Code. As part of our commitment to ensuring integrity in esports, ESIC initiated an investigation into the matter. Due to intervening factors, ESIC could not make a public statement on the matter until this point in time.

Investigation and Charges

Our comprehensive investigation into the matter involved examining match footage, reviewing betting patterns, and conducting interviews with relevant parties. While we must maintain confidentiality to protect the integrity of the investigation, we can share that the evidence collected pointed to Mr. Smith’s involvement in activities that contravened articles 2.1.1 and 2.1.2 of the ESIC Anti-Corruption Code. These activities include improper influence on match outcomes and involvement in corrupt betting practices. The gathered information was subsequently presented to Mr. Smith in a Notice of Charge.

Resolution and Sanction

After reviewing the charges and evidence, Flynn “Deluxe” Smith accepted the charges and agreed to a plea bargain arrangement. Consequently, he is subject to a two-year ban from participating in any capacity in events organized by ESIC Members. The ban is effective from 4th April 2023 until midnight 3rd April 2025.

ESIC’s Commitment to Integrity

ESIC remains steadfast in our commitment to maintaining the highest standards of integrity in esports. We will continue to conduct investigations and impose sanctions when necessary to protect the integrity of the industry. We also encourage the esports community to actively participate in promoting fair play and integrity in esports.


We appreciate the esports industry’s support in maintaining the integrity of the industry and fostering a fair, competitive environment for all participants. If you have any inquiries or concerns related to this statement, please feel free to contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Pilot Sports Help Deliver A Robust Safeguarding Audit Framework

Pilot Sports Help Deliver A Robust Safeguarding Audit Framework

Our Safeguarding in Sport Continuous Improvement Program provides a nationally consistent approach to child safeguarding in sport.

The program was developed by Sport Integrity Australia with the help of some National Sport Organisations who were part of a pilot program over a six-month period.

Sport Integrity Australia Director of Safeguarding Lisa Purves said the purpose of the pilot program was to develop a robust audit framework to support the implementation of the program.

Sport Integrity Australia recognises the significant work that has been completed by Gymnastics, Rugby and Equestrian since the pilot program concluded,” Ms Purves said. “All three sports have made significant strides in their safeguarding journey.

Their practical insights and context provided valuable feedback which have shaped the final program design.”

She said key learnings and insights were gathered from the pilot sports.

Critically, the pilot sports identified key resources required for the sector, including the Child Safety Risk Management and Guide, Safeguarding Risk Identification Library and the Third-Party Contractor Guide.

Sport Integrity Australia is currently finalising these child safe risk management tools, which will be made available to all sports towards the end of 2023.

At the conclusion of the pilot program, three sports – Gymnastics Australia, Rugby Australia and Equestrian Australia – have continued to work with Sport Integrity Australia to develop their Recognise Phase Action Plans aimed at maturing their member protection and child safeguarding practices.

Sport Integrity Australia also congratulates the following sports who have since signed up to the program, demonstrating a commitment providing a safe sport environment for their members: AusCycling, Basketball Australia, DanceSport Australia, Disability Sports Australia, Disabled Winter Sports Australia, Netball Australia, Orienteering Australia, Pony Club Australia, Softball Australia, Squash Australia, Surf Life Saving Australia, Swimming Australia, Triathlon Australia and Volleyball Australia.

Basketballer Receives Sanction

Basketballer Receives Sanction

Sport Integrity Australia acknowledges the decision of Basketball Australia to impose a one-month ban on Tahjere McCall for the Presence of a metabolite of a Prohibited Substance.

Mr McCall, an American professional basketball player who is contracted to the Cairns Taipans in the National Basketball League (NBL), returned an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) from an In-Competition doping control test on 3 February 2023 at the Perth v Cairns game at RAC Arena, Perth, Western Australia.

Mr McCall’s sample was analysed at the Australian Sports Drug Testing Laboratory, part of the National Measurement Institute, and the presence of 11-nor-delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol-9-carboxylic acid (metabolite of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)) was detected.

The substance THC is listed under class S8 (Cannabinoids) and is classified as a Specified Substance under the World Anti-Doping Code – International Standard – Prohibited List – 2023 (2023 Prohibited List) and is prohibited In-Competition. THC is also classified as a ‘Substance of Abuse’ under the 2023 Prohibited List.

As of 1 January 2021, under Article of the Australian National Anti-Doping Policy 2021 (ANADP), if an Athlete tests positive to a 'Substance of Abuse’ (such as Marijuana or Cocaine), then the Athlete’s period of Ineligibility may be reduced to three months if the Athlete is able to prove that the substance was ingested or Used Out-of-Competition and was unrelated to sport performance.

In addition, the Athlete’s period of Ineligibility calculated under Article of the ANADP may be further reduced to one month if the Athlete satisfactorily completes a Substance of Abuse treatment program approved by Sport Integrity Australia.

In Mr McCall’s case, all requirements for a reduction in the period of Ineligibility under Article of the ANADP were satisfied.

Basketball Australia thereby imposed a one-month period of Ineligibility on Mr McCall, commencing on 21 June 2023.

Mr McCall was ineligible to participate in any sports that have adopted a World Anti-Doping Code compliant anti-doping policy until 21 July 2023.

Anti-Doping Steering Committee presents first Report to Kenyan Government

Athletics Integrity Unit Logo


31 MARCH 2023, MONACO: Member of the Anti-Doping Steering Committee spearheading the fight against doping in Kenyan athletics, Brett Clothier, says the Kenyan Government’s US$25 million commitment to the special project for the next five years gives the Committee the financial muscle to deal with the major problem.

Speaking in Nairobi today as the Committee presented its first Kenya Anti-Doping Report to the Kenyan Government, Clothier – who is Head of the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) – lauded the Government for supporting the eradication of doping in Kenyan athletics.

“We must commend the Government of Kenya for the excellent commitment, which will help neutralise the doping menace and keep Kenya’s athletics arena clean. This will be a long road, but as the AIU, we are very glad to contribute to this government initiative that seeks to end doping in Kenya,” said Clothier.

The Anti-Doping Steering Committee – comprising representatives from the AIU, the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) and Athletics Kenya (AK) – has developed a roadmap geared at combatting the doping scourge among Kenyan athletes, with a view to reducing doping substantially. Among the plans outlined in its first report, the Committee has indicated it will draw upon the extensive expertise of a multiagency team to investigate and prosecute doping matters. It will also increase testing among Kenyan athletes as well as enhance educational and integrity programmes for athletes and athlete personnel. Clothier stressed, however, that in its quest to clean up Kenyan athletics, the Steering Committee expects to initially be confronted with a higher number of doping cases as it ramps up testing and its overall integrity vigilance.

Principal Secretary for the State Department for Sports, the Honourable Jonathan Mueke, and Chief Administrative Secretary for the department, the Honourable Wesley Korir (2012 Boston Marathon winner), received the report on behalf of the Kenyan Government. Mueke commented that the report presented an implementation strategy that will see Kenya eradicate doping from its sporting ecosystem.

“The ministry is satisfied with the work that has been done by this Committee, culminating in the establishment of this report,” he said.

“We are confident that, with the strategies contained in this report, we are going to completely bring the doping menace under control in Kenya.”

Stating that doping is a matter of strategic interest to Kenya, Mueke stressed no effort will be spared to ensure the scourge is neutralised. He challenged Kenyan athletes to continue flying the Kenyan flag high by running cleanly.

Athletics Kenya President Lt Gen. Jackson Tuwei added that Kenya is a globallyknown sporting nation – an athletics powerhouse – and therefore it is the country’s responsibility to maintain an international reputation of competing without cheating.

Upcoming Events