Hunt and Carlisle call for change
16 July ~ In light of the testimonies given at John Terry's trial last week, there have been calls to clamp down on the abuse and insults players hurl at each other and referees. Jeremy Hunt, the Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, and PFA Chairman Clarke Carlisle have both expressed their desire to clean up this aspect of the game and have urged the FA and referees to enforce stricter punishments on those found guilty of foul and abusive language. Both Anton Ferdinand and Terry shocked the court when confirming the details of their argument.
Carlisle believes the FA should "adopt a line of social responsibility" by enforcing the respect campaign "to the nth degree". He will be discussing the issue on BBC3 tonight. Carlisle's view seems to be echoed by Law 12 of the FIFA regulations, which states that using foul and abusive language or gestures on the field is an offence worthy of a caution or even dismissal. This law and the Respect campaign seems to remain largely ignored by officials.
Wayne Rooney became the first victim of the rule when he was retrospectively banned for two matches by the FA last April. Rooney was heard swearing into a TV camera after he scoring a hat-trick against West Ham United, but the FA have failed to act consistently.
There is no denying that the language Rooney used has become a major part of the game. Hunt claims swearing on the pitch has "gone too far". He said: "I would like to see the football authorities do more because I think we just have to recognise that football has huge influence on thousands and thousands of young people and we do need footballers to set an example."
Carlisle believes these laws should be strongly implemented ahead of the season, so the League's reputation will not be tarnished. "If players were being sent off and banned because of the language they are using then it would cause them to address their behaviour and it would cause the clubs to come down on it too."
Those against producing cards for foul language have raised fears that matches could be ruined by multiple dismissals. The counter-argument is that setting a strict example ought to deter players from what has become a distasteful status quo. Others point out that abusive language emanates from the stands and people are rarely ejected for it.
Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech has dismissed calls to clamp down on the language used in football. "Football always has been and always will be the same. You have a lot of adrenaline, a lot of joy, a lot of frustration. It's always been the same in every sport. You can't really take this away from the game." Strong feelings are stirred up during football matches but the same can be said about a courtroom, a classroom or a hospital, workplaces where this type of language would be punished.
The ideal solution would be to clamp down on foul language without jeopardising the match itself. Perhaps a retrospective panel that fines violators might be a more efficient deterrent. Ultimately, it is a decision the FA needs to contemplate ahead of the new season if football is to avoid the scrutiny and criticism it has received as a result of last week's trial. Max Bentley