Safer goalposts for junior football after nine deaths

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The Independent Online

Strict sponsorships are being introduced on portable goalposts, which have been responsible for the deaths of nine children since 1986.

Strict sponsorships are being introduced on portable goalposts, which have been responsible for the deaths of nine children since 1986.

The guidelines have been drawn up after the Football Association was heavily criticised for inaction by a coroner at an inquest into the death of a seven-year-old boy who died when a moveable goalpost fell on his head.

The regulations, covering the 25,000 sites where junior goals are used in the United Kingdom, mean that a sports official who fails to follow them risks being sued for failing to show due diligence in the event of any accident. The move has been supported by Kate Hoey, the sports minister, and the FA, which will launch a high-profile safety awareness campaign to coincide with the start of the football season next month.

Moveable goalposts, typically three or four feet high, are popular for five-a-side and seven-a-side football games, commonly played by children and young teenagers. But a series of fatal accidents in the past 14 years has highlighted the risks that the goalposts pose to safety.

David Lazenby, director of standards for the British Standards Institution which has introduced the guidelines, said: "Accidents have happened when children bang into the goalposts or swing on them. If a metal crossbar falls on a child it is enough to cause an extremely nasty injury. At times these have been fatal."

The steps are expected to see the end of home-made goalposts cobbled together from scaffolding, which safety experts consider to be the most dangerous. But metal crossbars, also blamed for serious head injuries, will not have to be replaced by lighter aluminium or plastic posts. Instead, all bars will be accompanied by guidelines showing how they can be used without incident.

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