Gary Lineker has launched a devastating attack on pushy parents in England, claiming that the culture that makes kids' games ultra-competitive encounters marked by fierce criticism shouted from the touchlines is what is holding back the national game.
The former England international condemned the "utterly depressing behaviour" of ambitious parents who rant and rave on the touchline trying to turn their children into football stars.
The 52-year-old presenter of the BBC's flagship Match of the Day programme said in an article in the New Statesman magazine their behaviour was wrecking their children's confidence and stifling their development.
Lineker, who is England's second highest scorer with 48 goals and was never booked or sent off in his career, wrote: "The competitive nature of most mums and dads is astounding.
"They fear they instil in our promising but sensitive Johnny is utterly depressing."
Lineker called for a "parental cultural revolution" and said if let their children 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.
Tracey Crouch, an FA coach and a conservative member of parliament, backed Lineker's comments.
"You can see players getting frustrated at the running commentary from their parents," said Crouch.
Another MP and qualified referee, Chris Heaton-Harris, said Lineker was "bang on," adding, "some parents are like ultra-rude Alex Fergusons with none of the experience."
Is Lineker right? Are pushy parents the real problem in English football, or do you think kids do better when their competitive spirit is encouraged and brought out? Have your say below...
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