Where is the respect in football?

There is no real need to swear in front of the television cameras is there?After 34 weeks, it’s safe to say the Barclays Premier League is close to reaching its conclusion. Once again we’ve seen 20 teams rise and fall up and down the table like a game of snakes and ladders. It’s been a thrilling campaign; we’ve seen the extravaganza that is Ian Holloway, someone has stolen Fernando Torres’ powers, and remember when everyone was saying Arsenal could win the quadruple? Not to mention the brilliant individual performance of Scott Parker at West Ham, which has led to him deservedly being introduced to the England squad. One thing is still missing however, and it has done for many seasons now – respect. Not just for referees, but for the game itself.

A quote on the FA website reveals, “Dissent cautions across top four divisions of the professional game were down by nine per cent last season (2009-10)”. Is this because players are now a lot more friendly and caring towards one another? No. The rate of yellow cards is probably down because the game has reached the extent where referees are now too scared to show players yellow cards in fear of abuse. I for one would feel awfully alone if 11 men (backed by thousands of spectators) were in my face screaming like I’d just shot somebody, but of course, I forgot that referees are so bad nowadays that they cannot tell the difference between a leg-breaking lunge and a gentle trip of the feet, and therefore are wrong to show yellow cards.

Is football just a game nowadays? The last time I checked, a game was completed for enjoyment and amusement, to create a competitive spirit where individuals or teams would pit their wits against fellow competitors. But of course, since the idea of extreme wages was introduced, that whole concept has vanished. Surely the Football League must have known that by abolishing the wage limit in 1961, football would soon become a sport much revolved around money, instead of skill and enjoyment. I mean, look at Wayne Rooney’s TV outburst against West Ham a few weeks ago. Who, after just scoring a hat-trick, shows that sort of rage at a TV camera? If scoring three goals in a game makes you angry mate, why are you involved in the sport? Oh yeah, I forgot the wages you receive.

As for the idea of respect towards officials, I’m clueless as to why anyone would want to become a referee nowadays. Heckled for their every decision, the FA can continue to impose campaigns and systems designed to stop this abuse, but the fact that no punishment is delivered to the drama queens who cry when a decision goes against them is disgraceful. Watching Manchester United against Chelsea in the 2nd leg of the Champions League, Chelsea players immediately pressurised Olegario Benquerenca after the Portuguese referee showed John Terry a yellow card. Just what is the point, I asked myself. Benquerenca obviously wasn’t going to change his mind, so what; the players just felt the need to show what decibels they can reach? Perhaps it’s like a little competition players have these days, who can shout at the referee the loudest. Referees are supposed to be in charge, not players.

Of course, the portrayal of bad language and behaviour on the big screen will have a huge effect on those at grass roots level. You get your little wannabe Ronaldo’s and Messi’s, the sorts of players who possess exquisite talent and skill and are brilliant role models, but there are those who unfortunately aspire to be the next Joey Barton, the thugs who possess incredible talent for breaking legs.

According to Richard Scudamore, all 20 premiership clubs have agreed to show improved behaviour on the pitch, but is their word really good enough? Referees will always be isolated, like a man left in a lion enclosure. These overpaid ‘stars’ may think they are superheroes, but in truth they are ruining the beautiful game. Until more is done, expect more diving, bad language, gamesmanship, the lot. Who says the future will be such a good thing?

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