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Chilliwack FC staff, volunteers verbally abused by parents angry over COVID-19 measures

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Soccer club in Chilliwack pleading with parents to stop being vulgar, abusive towards staff, volunteers

Chilliwack FC says there have been a number of incidents of parents inflicting verbal abuse over COVID-19 measures

Chilliwack Football Club says it's been forced to hire security after several incidents

CHILLIWACK (NEWS 1130) – A soccer club in Chilliwack says it has been forced to hire security because of abuse staff and volunteers are facing from parents frustrated over COVID-19 restrictions.

In an e-mail to families, the Chilliwack Football Club says some people have gone so far, it could be considered a “potential violence in the workplace issue.”

“It’s really unfortunate that our members, some of them, not all of them, have chosen to behave poorly,” Andrea Laycock, Chilliwack FC chairperson, says.

She tells NEWS 1130 there have been multiple incidents over the past few weeks of staff being on the receiving end of verbal abuse.

“We’ve had them come up to the table using very vulgar language, that [parents] think this isn’t necessary, that they’re fine, and just blow right past the contact tracer who, usually, sits there stunned and shocked at the behaviour,” Laycock explains.

“They feel that they have every right to just take them down verbally, and just treat them generally very poorly. That’s just not fair, and is just a total disregard for the rules and policies that are in place.”

Laycock says in some cases the contact tracers are moms or retirees looking for extra cash.

If kids are to play amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Laycock says the club has no choice but to enforce mask wearing in certain areas, have limits on the number of spectators allowed to watch games, and take down names and numbers.

She adds much of the anger is around the restriction on how many people can watch games, which is currently one person per player.

“We would love to be able to turn over that decision and go full bore again, but we can’t. We have to follow the health orders if we want the kids on the field,” Laycock adds.

In the e-mail sent to families, the club says some interactions have been “so horrific and borderline violent” it has hired a security company to send someone to the field on the weekends “to do a sweep.”

Laycock thinks of them as a “presence, so people know this is serious.”

“We want the kids playing soccer. We want the kids being able to play their hockey, and field lacrosse, and football. We want them in sport, it’s so important to everybody, and especially to the kids. We have to follow the health orders that are in place.”

The club is now asking all parents and guardians to read their Return to Play COVID-19 Policy and sign it, acknowledging they’ve read and understand the document. If not, their child will not be allowed to play or train.

Laycock hopes the letter helps put an end to the aggressive behaviour, but she admits that may not be the case.