Monday, 4 April 2011
It was not some moment of sporting excellence in either; no overhead kick finish with triple salko and extra panache on top, no last minute 70 yard, match-winning, wonder dropped-goal. Both were short close-ups of a man's face, long enough to catch a glimpse of his speech, and therein rather made my case in point about disciplinary and behavioural trends in the two football codes.
The first, as I am sure you are aware, was Wayne "Impeccable Manners and Judgement" Rooney swearing live at over 200 countries tuned in to watch Man U play West Ham. Naturally he has been defended today with the same old mantras of "passionate game" and "heat of the moment". Naturally we should ignore this tired old crap, or "f**king" old crap as Wayne might say. What tosh. So I am pleased to see the FA have decided to do something about the foul-mouthed little oik, and have charged him. It appears someone has found their book of regulations (presumably mislaid in an office spring clean many years ago) and remembered it says this…
"a participant shall at all times act in the best interests of the game and shall not act in any manner which is improper or brings the game into disrepute or use any one, or a combination of, violent conduct, serious foul play, threatening, abusive, indecent or insulting words or behaviour"
I shouldn't complain at the fact that this is the first time in living memory any of the shameful behaviour from mugging the ref every time he gives a decision to calling him names that would make a sailor blush to his face (and easily visible on internationally broadcast matches) has been punished. Progress is progress. Let's just hope they don't stop there and decide they've now fixed the problem. The behaviour (on and off the pitch) of these multi-millionaire hooligans (not of all of them, but let's be honest and say most) is at best a stain on the game of football, but at worst a pernicious and malevolent cancer infecting the malleable minds of millions of young fans. I have already blogged about football here and this topic in particular here, but if it's worth saying once…
These people must understand the responsibility of being a role model that comes with stardom and the concomitant wheelbarrow loads of cash. Children see referees abused, they see tantrums and tiaras, Kevin and Perry-esque infantilism, bullying and threatening behaviour. And it all goes not just unpunished but handsomely rewarded.
If you think that passion is a good enough justification for all of the above, did you happen to see the excellent Harlequins/Leicester game on Saturday? A 17-14 thriller that went to the wire. Leicester needing a win to stay on top of the Premiership and Quins needing to win to keep their challenge for the top 4 and all the kudos and TV money of European rugby alive. There were some pretty fired up players, but they showed respect for the referee throughout as ever, submitting to his authority and accepting his decisions, even red cards. With a minute or two to go, a decision went against Quins in a vital part of the pitch. The camera cut to a middle aged man watching intently with presumably his young son on his lap mimicking his concern as Quins approached a narrow loss. There were no microphones near him but you could easily make out his dismay at the crucial decision not going the way of his team. That too was beamed into households across the country well before the watershed. What did he say?
"Oh, for pity's sake."