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Are loud parents at youth matches to blame for England's football malaise?

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Are loud parents at youth matches to blame for England's football malaise?

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Curtailing the “utterly depressing behaviour” of parents watching youth football would boost England’s fortunes, claims former star striker Gary Lineker.

The 52-year-old, England’s second highest scorer with 48 goals, said parents’ shouting from the touchline was wrecking children’s confidence and stifling their development.

Lineker, in an interview with New Statesman magazine, said the way children played encouraged “big lads” to lump the ball forward and was one of the reasons for the malaise of the English game.

England’s sole World Cup success was nearly half a century ago in 1966 and the country is engaged in soul-searching about how to improve their chances in the future.

Lineker wrote: “The competitive nature of most mums and dads is astounding. They fear they instil in our promising-but-sensitive-Johnny is utterly depressing.”

He called for a “parental cultural revolution”, saying if children were left to enjoy themselves parents would be “staggered at the difference it would make”.

“There is a breed of parent I have seen who hurl ridiculous abuse at officials or even the young player they are meant to be supporting. It’s as if they are living their own dreams through their kids,” he added.

He said the way children played encouraged “big lads” to lump the ball forward and was one of the reasons for the malaise of the English game.

“It’s obvious why we have a long-ball culture: the big lads who kick it furthest are the ones who stand out. What chance for the diminutive yet gifted midfielder?

“No chance of him developing his tiki-taka football,” said Lineker in reference to the short passing, possession-focused style of play.