Recently my Saturday league football team received a complaint. We play near a residential area and we were moaned at for not minding our language.
We were challenged face-to-face by a woman, she must have been in her sixties, and she said the language is appalling and not acceptable.
Of course we apologised, we're nice guys.
But, I'm sorry, the idea of stopping 22 footballing men from swearing during a game to me is blasphemous. We are men. Well, I'm almost a man. But my point is when the testosterone is flying in a game I see nothing wrong with letting the occasional (and sometimes more than occasional) word slip out.
It has become part of the game for me. I've been playing football competitively since i was five and not one game, I can remember, went swear-free. Age five, I know. What is this country coming to, eh?
Under the heading of 'sending off offences' the official FA rules of the game state that you can be dismissed from play for 'using offensive, insulting or abusive language'.
So why is there such an emphasis on cutting swearing from the game? Well, I understand the approach to those in youth football and younger (Under 18). We don't want kids swearing. Quite bluntly.
And especially not in football, the game everyone is encouraged to try in their youth. Almost everyone has kicked a ball, it's skill level that determines whether you're playing Premier league or staying Premier Inn.
However, is swearing really that big of an issue?
Let's be honest, everyone swears. Chances are, you will know maybe two people who don't, or you have never heard, swear and even then you find it unusual when they get angry and can't scream inappropriately or describe the pain endured after kicking a coffee table.
I digress. In the big leagues broadcasted live on TV you always see the players mouthing something naughty. But go on, how many red cards have you seen for the players swearing at the ref? I've never seen one. Yes, maybe a yellow but I've never seen a ref give a player their marching orders for what is disguised as 'dissent'.
If you want to stamp out language lower down you have to start high up, where everyone can see it. Until the big boys are getting sent off for mouthing off, the little ones will have to suffer at this rule, it seems, only instilled to them... when they don't have very good role models on the pitch.
It's quite a simple solution really. Kill the language in the Premier league and it'll die in the Kids' leagues, bringing though a generation of clean-talking footballers.
Although to the men of this era, in all levels of competition, I'm afraid you shall forever be stricken with swearing on the pitch.
Oh, what a shame!
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