Gentlemen. No swearing please!

March 10, 2009

Former Tottenham Hotspur defender Gary Mabbutt said recently that he never swore once during his 19-year career that ended in 1998.

It’s ironic, for nowhere is swearing more prevalent than in soccer. Over the years foul language has cemented itself as part of football culture.

The unforgettable Brian Clough, in keeping with his eccentric ways, once decided to erect signs around Nottingham Forest’s City Ground reading, “Gentlemen. No swearing please! Brian.”

Old Big ‘Ead threatened to resign (in jest, of course) if the fans didn’t adhere to his requests, but they merely responded with a cheeky sign of their own… “Brian. No leaving please! The Gentlemen.”

That was 20 years ago when hooliganism was a big problem in the game.

However, nowadays language at football grounds is often still foul and abusive — both on and off the pitch. Bearing in mind stadiums have become a lot more family friendly, what kind of an example must this be setting and shouldn’t the FA be doing more to stop it?

My Reuters colleague Mike Collett told me last year about his experience at a Millwall game, where three generations of the same family were repeatedly using offensive language.

As ticket prices have soared, fans are increasingly arguing for their right to voice their opinion. But should they watch the language they use?

PHOTO: Manchester united and england striker Wayne Rooney has often been caught on camera swearing during matches. Of course, he is not alone. October 25, 2008. REUTERS/Phil Noble


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Who would the FA start with though?

The players, who pretty much swear every game (although chances are you will just be able to lip-sync their swearing as opposed to actually hearing it on the pitch); or the fans, who look up to said idols who are swearing pretty much every game.

Posted by Loginoffski | Report as abusive

It has to start with the players; via rugby-esque style referreeing. There’s been a lot of talk about the respect program, but i don’t see much evidence of it..

It would make for a year of loads of red cards as players struggled to ‘adapt’, but it would surely go a long way to improving the game..

Posted by Diego | Report as abusive

What a load of sh*te. I pay 50 quid upwards to watch these spoilt nancies and you’re telling me to keep a lid on my language? S*d off.

Posted by Graham | Report as abusive