The charges have been made, the appeal heard and the a title=Wayne Rooney banned for Man Utds FA Cup semi-final href=http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/12995661.stm target=_blanksentence handed down/a; Wayne Rooney will be missing for Manchester Uniteds FA Cup semi final against a title=Sir Alex Ferguson stokes up hostilities with Manchester City after derby victory href=http://http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/football/article6841960.ece target=_blanknoisy neighbours/a City this weekend at Wembley. But did he deserve his two match ban? Was his offence really that bad? And perhaps most importantly, why on earth did he do it in the first place?
Wayne Rooney is currently the most famous exponent of the four letter rant in English football, however he is by no means alone in his love of the profane. It would now come as a shock to watch a Premier League game without someone being caught swearing on camera at some point. Rooney is a serial offender though, add to this his high-profile and the timing of the event (coming just days after the a title=Premier League to curb player behaviour – Scudamore href=http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/9442760.stm target=_blankFAs latest push for respect/a in the game), and it should come as no surprise that those in charge have chosen to make an example of Rooney.
Was his crime really deserving of a two match ban though? Especially considering the lack of action taken by the FA for the inexcusable elbow he dished out to Wigans James McCarthy in February of this year. That offence apparently warranted no punishment on the pitch and even having reviewed the damning video evidence after the event, the FA still chose to take no action.
So it seems repeatedly swearing into a television camera is worse than assaulting a player, at least that is what the decision makers think and theyre the only opinions that really count. In my opinion a two match ban seems appropriate for such a crime, however the problem comes when you compare it to other offences of a similar nature and the punishment they received.
The FA have made an example of Wayne Rooney, but with no precedent for their decision. Were there a set of rules in place to deal with foul and abusive language and its use on the field of play (or at least a set that are enforced) then perhaps this incident wouldnt have received the coverage it has.
If the sports governing body really are serious about achieving respect for their match officials then perhaps they should behave like a body that deserves it. Instead of promotional videos with Ray Winstone, advertising boards around the edge of the Wembley pitch and a little patch on a players sleeve, how about punishments for every swear word aimed at anyone other than themselves. A yellow card for a first offence, red card for second and match bans for anything after? The rule makers may say there are already rules in place to cover such offences, in which case they should be enforced.
Players need to realise that they cant turn the air blue whenever they feel like it and get away with it, if referees had this kind of power then they may just be respected that little bit more. Like it or not footballers are role models, so they need to learn to behave like it – if suspensions mean they miss important games, lose endorsement deals and are hit with significant fines then they may just sit up and pay attention.
Perhaps the more important question to ask with regards to this and countless other situations in which tempers boil over is why it happens in the first place? Why do players feel the need to swear into a camera, butt heads because someone may have mis-timed a tackle or join in a mass brawl, all started because someone wouldnt give the ball back quickly enough?
The slew of official player apologies that get trotted out to the press after a game will more than likely feature one of more of the following phrases: heat of the moment, not intentional, never meant to cause any offence, pressure can do funny things etc.
I fail to see how scoring a hat-trick to take the lead in a vital game could lead to swearing directly into a television camera. Surely this would be a joyous occasion, one to revel in with your teammates and supporters?
If a teammate of mine were getting involved in a fracas with an opposition player, I dont see the reason for two whole teams to then get involved and risk further punishment. If I were to ring a title=BBC – 606 href=http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0070hz6 target=_blank606 on 5Live/a with this opinion I would no doubt be told by Robbie Savage that you cant understand the pressures players are under until youve played at that level. I would agree with him up to a point, he is correct in saying that professional footballers are under far more pressure to perform than the average amateur sportsperson could ever imagine. However were he then to go on and say that it is just passion boiling over, this is where I would draw the line. Passion is a word used to excuse all sorts of despicable behaviour in sport, I refuse to agree that amateur sportspeople dont play with the same passion and desire to win that the pros do.
Of course foul language and bad behaviour is not reserved for professional sport, neither is it the sole preserve of a football pitch; John McEnroe, Serena Williams, Mike Tyson, Tiger Woods, the list could go on. So is it really passion boiling over or is that just an excuse for a lack of emotional, and sometimes physical, control? I would lean towards the latter and suggest that the old myth of if you take it out of their game youll lose something is a load of rubbish.
Roger Federer is a prime example of what someone can achieve when they a title=Roger Federer’s quest for tennis perfection href=http://www.sportingo.com/tennis/a4495_roger-federers-quest-tennis-perfection target=_blanklearn to control their emotions/a and focus that energy into something positive. As a teenager he was renowned for his emotional outbursts and racket smashing antics, but as soon as he learned to keep his emotions in check, he transformed into the serene genius that dominated mens tennis for so long.
So the benefits of keeping calm and respecting those around you are clear, you dont run the risk of suspensions, fines and tarnishing your reputation – and it may lead to an upturn in performance. It is evident that some find it easier to control their emotions than others, but even losing your cool is no excuse for violent outbursts, be they physical or verbal. How is it possible then for officials to obtain the respect they crave? If the athletes cannot learn to control themselves then at least consistent punishment might eventually push the message home.
Photos courtesy of stronga title=americanistadechiapas photostream href=http://www.flickr.com/photos/americanistadechiapas/ target=_blankamericanistadechiapas/a /strong(Wayne), and stronga title=Perunotas TVs Photostream href=http://www.flickr.com/photos/39203725@N08/with/3631936864/ target=_blankPerunotas TV/a /strong(Roger).