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A coach talks to a group of young players sitting in a circle


Every player has the right to be treated with dignity and respect. And whenever you work with someone aged under 18, you’re in something called a relationship of trust.  

This relationship must: 

  • maintain clear boundaries at all times 
  • be supportive, positive and aimed at helping the young person improve 
  • focus on the respective coaching or leadership skills. 

No intimate or sexual relationship should take place while the member of staff or volunteer is in a relationship of trust with a player.  

In addition, inappropriate, intimate or sexual relationships between an adult and a young player aged 16 and 17 may be unlawful, irrespective of gender and sexual orientation. 

Remember, you are responsible and accountable for how you behave towards individuals under the age of 18. 

The FA applies this section of the Sexual Offences Act 2003

“It is an offence for a person aged 18 or over to involve a child under that age in sexual activity where he or she is in a specified position of trust in relation to that child. This includes those who care for, advise, supervise or train children and young people (Sexual Offences Act 2003)”. 

Therefore, if you engage in an intimate or sexual relationship with a young player, it is a breach of The Football Association Regulations and may result in disciplinary action.  

Where appropriate, a referral will also be made to the statutory agencies, including the police, and applicable local authority bodies, such as the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). 

Where a relationship of trust exists, it makes no difference whether or not the relationship is consensual. The imbalance of power makes it an abuse of that relationship of trust. 

  • With all participants relevant to your role, maintain a relationship that reflects positively on your club or organisation. 

  • As someone in a position of authority, never seek or engage in sexual activity (or sexualised communication via social media) with any 16 or 17-year-olds who you’re responsible for. 

  • If you think that a young person’s behaviour indicates that they’re seeking to develop or engage in an inappropriate relationship with you, immediately bring this to the attention of your club-designated safeguarding officer or county FA welfare officer. Be careful not to respond to the young person in any way that could be interpreted as encouraging them. Make a written record of your concerns and relevant details. 

  • If you suspect an individual with a specified role in football is abusing, or may abuse, a position of trust, report this to the club-designated safeguarding officer or county FA welfare officer. Make a written record of your concerns and relevant details. 

  • If you feel your concern has not been dealt with appropriately, you can refer the matter directly to The FA safeguarding team by calling 0800 169 1863 (extension 6300) or via email at  Alternatively, you can seek advice from the 24-hour NSPCC Helpline – 0808 800 5000.