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Football has no respect for itself.

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Premier League

Don't tell me what to do.

Racial abuse case exposes the depths English football is plumbing.

Like one of many hundreds of thousands of football fans I'm looking forward to the start of the new football season. But I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels slightly uneasy at the direction our game is headed and the frequent bad publicity that surrounds it.

There are so many issues that are out of control in football that it can't be long until the game spectacularly self-implodes.

So many things wrong and yet so few people with the willingness or ability to sort it out.

There are so many isues that are out of control in football that it can't be long until the game spectacularly self-implodes.

So many things wrong and yet so few people with the willingness or ability to sort it out.

Football is spiralling out of control and unless action is taken the cancer that is eating its soul will eventually claim its victim.

The current racial abuse case involving John Terry and Anton Ferdinand is one issue of many that needs addressing.

In court today John Terry admits that he used the words "black cunt" in the direction of Ferdinand but only in the context that he was repeating what had already been said.

The TV cameras clearly showed both players swearing at each other and giving each other plenty of abuse, which they both seem to think is acceptable behaviour for professional footballers. It is only seemingly unacceptable when we cross the line into racial abuse.

So many cases of players swearing: at each other; directly into the camera, at the referee - what example is this to set a younger generation?

This is how you are supposed to behave? This is the model you are supposed to aspire to?

When my fifteen and twelve year old boys watched Murray V Federer on Sunday they sat spellbound in between trying to figure out the points scoring system. At the end of the match they had found a new game to play and a new hero in Murray.

A few years ago you would not have expected Murray to be the beacon of light for a new generation but he has had to eliminate the petulance and self-abuse from his game out of necessity.

Of course there is still abuse in Tennis but no one would be allowed to get away with a McEnroe style tirade these days. You forfeit matches for displays of petulance as we saw at Queens several weeks ago.

No player is bigger than the tennis game itself. Rules are rigidly enforced and the game is better for it.

When McEnroe came along and started hurling abuse at the umpire for getting line calls wrong or correctly or incorrectly overruling we were treated to some spectacular hissy fits that have gone down in sports folklore.

But to get to grips with it the tennis authorities have moved with the times.

Tennis has hawk eye. Football has no such technology.

Tennis has a strict dress code. Bendtner would be banned for his world cup stunt.

Swearing at the umpire simply loses you points until eventually you forfeit the match. Football is in the dark ages.

What about the respect campaign?

Is a laudable attempt to protect referees from the worst excesses of abuse but if those that it is designed to try and protect are unable to take players to task when they use foul and abusive language – as stated in the laws of the game – then it is destined to fail from the outset.

How many times are we going to watch referees being blatantly told to "fuck off" this season and do nothing about it?

Clearly this is a situation where the players ARE bigger than the game itself.

Is this what we have become? Afraid to punish expensively paid footballers because of the fear of retribution? Until the issue of abuse and swearing is addressed properly on the pitch we will always have morons chanting obscene abuse from the stands.

One begets the other. How can you command respect from supporters when you set such a poor example on the pitch yourself?

To solve this issue football needs to stop paying lip service and do something meaningful. It is not as if they don't have the means.

Wiring up the referee would be a good starting point as they do in Rugby Union. Sure there would be a spate of yellow cards and sending offs but it would be a small price to pay for the long term good of the game.

This issue of abuse is so important because it sets the standard for the game as a whole. There is no other sport where such obvious "poor sportsmanship" is in such abundant evidence.

Sure cricket has "sledging" but it doesn't debase itself by simply using coarse language as a means to destabilise your opponent. There is an art to sledging and "have you shagged your best mate's wife lately"? Is not part of that art.

In any case any hint of it getting out of control and you can be sure the umpires will intervene.

Referees need to be given the direction to stamp this out, the means to do so and the authority to deal with it.

Only then will we have true respect for the game we love.


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