So John Terry was cleared of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand on Friday afternoon. And whatever you might think of JT, it this has to be a good thing for football that such a high profile player and former England captain is not a big racist. But whatever the verdict from last week’s court case, one thing is for sure: something really ought to be done about the level of foul and abusive language in the game.
Having read the transcripts from the trial, police interviews and FA inquiry, it’s incredible to think that people are continually outraged about the card waving we occasionally see in top level football. You have to wonder why the commentators are frequently up in arms about anyone brandishing imaginary cards without questioning what is actually being said between the players and managers, not to mention the abuse screamed in the direction of the refs, linos and fourth officials. If there was any doubt over the kinds of things footballers are saying to each other on the pitch, it has evapourated since the John Terry-Anton Ferdinand case.
It’s disappointing but frankly unsurprising to learn that arguments between Premier League footballers are pretty much the same as the slanging matches that take place on pitches up and down the country on a Sunday morning and school playgrounds. PFA chairman Clarke Carlisle has called for a clampdown on foul and abusive language in the game, suggesting that a few bans would cause players to address their behaviour. After all, it’s already in the rules that “using offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures” is a sending off offence. Referees would obviously need to be strong and there may be a large number of red cards handed out before we begin to see a change.
Here’s another suggestion: mic up the refs, linos and fourth officials. Hardly a revolutionary sporting suggestion and certainly not a new idea, but surely it would help solve the problem? Everyone on the pitch would be obliged to behave or the powers that be would be forced to act once players and managers are caught on tape swearing (as Wayne Rooney found out to his cost in April 2011). And surely it’d possible for the broadcasters to introduce a system in which you could hit the red button to switch the ref’s microphone on and off for anyone put out by bad language or concerned about the effect it might have on children.
Who knows, maybe we’d see an improvement and, god forbid, even a little flipping respect.