Whether they like it or not footballers are role models and it is not always the foremost factor in the minds of the pros that they are being watched my millions upon millions and that the camera doesn’t lie. You can’t fool us! Of course, it is a tired old adversary to run to the moral high ground and say certain acts or behaviour are bad for children watching but it remains true all the same. Indeed, we all get caught up in the heat of the moment in any walk of life, and for footballers amidst a perilous relegation scrap or tenacious title tilt, it is very easy to lose your cool and make a rash tackle or more commonly surround the referee and call him most of the names under the sun.
Wayne Rooney, Craig Bellamy and Andy Carroll have all been caught cursing to the officials this term, and although this could be considered as passion and a dedication to the cause to win at all costs, the incidents are always unsavoury and definitively contravene the principles as governed in the FA’s ‘Respect’ campaign. It is so easy for the players to immediately possess that red mist which sees them charge countless yards up the pitch to confront a referee. I suppose football is so competitive, that a vital one minute breather to calm down and take stock just isn’t relevant in the game.
It must be accepted that acts of dissent are much more rife on the continent, with El Clasico in Spain this year spilling over as a fractious affair containing diving, players branding yellow cards and even goalkeepers, in Barcelona’s Victor Valdes, charging up the pitch to query a decision. This doesn’t mean we should be complacent to the situation at home however, and whilst referees have been clamping down on the ‘two-footed lunge’ over recent seasons, bravery in issuing cards for dissent isn’t always as consistent as it could be.
Far too often, players walk free after committing bookable acts. Why can’t a foul-mouthed tirade get the same treatment as a mistimed tackle? Referees still judge fouls and contact far more rigorously than they do off the ball communication, and it is often another concept of player power that referees are seemingly frightened to send off big personalities like Wayne Rooney and John Terry, when they might do for a lesser player committing a similar offence.
It is hard to place dissent towards referees in a hierarchy of unsavoury football behaviour, with Luis Suarez’s imaginary card waving and players diving again setting the ever-disappointing tone this term. We don’t like to see any really, and whilst as fans ourselves we may get caught up in the moment and back our pros when committing such unsavoury instances, in the cold light of day and after reflection, we must accept that this behaviour is unacceptable and only exacerbates the problem of disrespect down the leagues and into the semi-professional and amateur realms.
If we look into why these acts remain unpunished in particularly, we can only speculate that fear plays a vital factor. Fear not only in irking the opinions of the managers on the sidelines given the importance and monetary repercussions of modern day football, but fear in the sense that the game may become tarnished by widespread cards being issued and the referees needing to punish almost everything in a game, inevitably ending up in too many sending’s off and damaged spectacles.
Therefore, it is down to the players and the players alone to clean up their act and help this refereeing predicament. It is so easy for us as fans to sit back, watch extra slowed down replays, ignore the human element to refereeing and simply slate the officials upon their errors, but the gap between understanding how difficult it can be to officiate a game needs to be bridged and the FA needs a more robust answer. Of course, finding a more accomplished ideal to the ‘Respect’ campaign is the million dollar question.
How can dissent be stamped out? Docking of wages perhaps? If you have any ideas I’d like to know @ http://twitter.com/Taylor_Will1989