Enfield's anti-spitting by-law creates controversy as amateur footballers warned not to spit on the football pitch

People who play football on the borough’s sports pitches could face prosecution if they are caught spitting.

The first anti-spitting by-law in the country was introduced in the borough on December 8, 2013.

This meant that anyone caught spitting in Enfield could face prosecution and could be fined up to £500 if found guilty by litter patrol staff.

However, the by-law has now sparked controversy amongst those who play the beautiful game across football pitches in the borough.

In a letter sent to Winchmore Hill Football Club by Danny Scott, Enfield Borough Council’s Business Support Officer, the letter states that although there would not be any specific targeting of football players, they should be warned against it.

It reads: “Whilst there are no plans to specifically target the teams using the borough’s sport pitches, we would like to take this opportunity to remind you that the bye-law does provide authorised officers with the powers to prosecute those witnessed spitting.

“Please cascade this information to your players and those of the opposition team to avoid the risk of prosecution.”

The letter was posted on social media site twitter by @bob_leeds and many players have react badly to the warning.

Captain of Latymer Old Boys first XI Peter Collop has labelled the by-law “laughable” and “unenforceable.”

He said: “I have been playing on Enfield pitches for many years and I have never heard of something so ridiculous. This is completely unenforceable on a football pitch and quite frankly laughable.

“It is something almost every player does when they play football; it all gets washed away by the end of the game. There is no way anybody will stop doing this. We have not been given any prior warning about this.”

Joseph Connelly, who has been playing amateur football in the borough for nearly 20 years, has questioned how it will be policed.

He said: “There is a big issue with this applying to amateur footballers, how will it be imposed?
“I just cannot see this by-law preventing people from spitting on the football pitch on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

“Of course, it is wrong to spit at each other, but spitting whilst playing has been going on since the game was invented and one by-law won’t bring that to a stop.”

The letter also said: “Under section 235 of the Local Government Act 1972, no person is permitted to spit in, into or from any relevant public place, including all of the borough’s parks and open spaces. Spitting is an anti-social act that has no place in any of Enfield’s wonderful parks and open spaces.”

Enfield Council’s cabinet member for environment, Councillor Chris Bond, said: ”We’ll be clarifying our position with the football clubs but there is no intention to prosecute anyone playing football, or doing other exercise, on our sports grounds.

“The bye-law gives the council discretion over to how it is enforced and we’ll be using common sense in enforcing it. The original letter was intended to be a polite request asking footballers not to spit because it’s a revolting habit, but was overzealous in tone and did not reflect the spirit of the bye-law.”

Comments (7)

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1:08pm Mon 13 Jan 14

Enfieldian14 says...

I'd like a footballer to explain exactly why they feel the need to gob on the pitch while playing.
I'd like a footballer to explain exactly why they feel the need to gob on the pitch while playing. Enfieldian14

4:34pm Mon 13 Jan 14

Andy_Pagin says...

Do they really wash the entire pitch at the end of a game.

Unenforceable?
Officer watches game, sees player spit, walks up to him, takes details, prosecutes. Teams/spectators either accept situation or risk criminal charges.
Do they really wash the entire pitch at the end of a game. Unenforceable? Officer watches game, sees player spit, walks up to him, takes details, prosecutes. Teams/spectators either accept situation or risk criminal charges. Andy_Pagin

9:19pm Mon 13 Jan 14

hanleybaby says...

absolutely ridiculous!..i thought this law was introduced to stop us from sidestepping and jumping over big gobs on the pavement in our everyday life?..so now they realise they cant actually catch and prosecute anyone to make money, footballers seem the easy target /?..!never heard such drivel in all my life!
absolutely ridiculous!..i thought this law was introduced to stop us from sidestepping and jumping over big gobs on the pavement in our everyday life?..so now they realise they cant actually catch and prosecute anyone to make money, footballers seem the easy target /?..!never heard such drivel in all my life! hanleybaby

9:50am Tue 14 Jan 14

bakers arms says...

Ridiculous to target footballers engaged in physical activity on a designated pitch.

Also, not sure why a business support officer, who sounds like quite a junior worker, is having to sign off controversial letters like this. Would've thought a more senior officer with a bigger pay cheque should be putting his or her name to it and dealing with the inevitable flack.
Ridiculous to target footballers engaged in physical activity on a designated pitch. Also, not sure why a business support officer, who sounds like quite a junior worker, is having to sign off controversial letters like this. Would've thought a more senior officer with a bigger pay cheque should be putting his or her name to it and dealing with the inevitable flack. bakers arms

12:14pm Tue 14 Jan 14

EN1girl says...

The problem of footballers spitting is a longstanding one. It is not just amateur players, but professionals also. The culture of the game needs to change fundamentally. Football players, especially profesionals, are role models and need to be setting an example. Both my husband and son played at semi-pro and pro levels and both have commented that they see no reason why footballers should ever need to spit.
The problem of footballers spitting is a longstanding one. It is not just amateur players, but professionals also. The culture of the game needs to change fundamentally. Football players, especially profesionals, are role models and need to be setting an example. Both my husband and son played at semi-pro and pro levels and both have commented that they see no reason why footballers should ever need to spit. EN1girl

9:07am Thu 16 Jan 14

long67 says...

EN1girl wrote:
The problem of footballers spitting is a longstanding one. It is not just amateur players, but professionals also. The culture of the game needs to change fundamentally. Football players, especially profesionals, are role models and need to be setting an example. Both my husband and son played at semi-pro and pro levels and both have commented that they see no reason why footballers should ever need to spit.
Don't Spit Swallow.
[quote][p][bold]EN1girl[/bold] wrote: The problem of footballers spitting is a longstanding one. It is not just amateur players, but professionals also. The culture of the game needs to change fundamentally. Football players, especially profesionals, are role models and need to be setting an example. Both my husband and son played at semi-pro and pro levels and both have commented that they see no reason why footballers should ever need to spit.[/p][/quote]Don't Spit Swallow. long67

6:42pm Fri 17 Jan 14

Bentley1984 says...

I remember reading an article about 10 years ago questioning why sportsmen and women need to spit. It was scientifically proven that the ability of a person to take in enough oxygen to perform at the top level directly correlates to how clear their airways are. Hence the need to clear them. As someone who has suffered from allergies and asthma I fully appreciate how blocked airways can affect breathing, stamina and performance. With regards to the comment on policing it by watching game and then taking names. Ridiculous is my only comment. Firstly I don't think they'll b able to forcibly take names and secondly if said council official sees this in the first minute are they going to spend the next 90 minutes waiting for the end of the game? That would be a great way to waste time and therefore council money.
I remember reading an article about 10 years ago questioning why sportsmen and women need to spit. It was scientifically proven that the ability of a person to take in enough oxygen to perform at the top level directly correlates to how clear their airways are. Hence the need to clear them. As someone who has suffered from allergies and asthma I fully appreciate how blocked airways can affect breathing, stamina and performance. With regards to the comment on policing it by watching game and then taking names. Ridiculous is my only comment. Firstly I don't think they'll b able to forcibly take names and secondly if said council official sees this in the first minute are they going to spend the next 90 minutes waiting for the end of the game? That would be a great way to waste time and therefore council money. Bentley1984

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