Rude Rooney's foul influence

25th February 2005 at 00:00
At my successful (according to the last two inspection reports) inner-city junior school, there is increasing concern about foul and abusive language during pupils' breaktime football sessions.

The pupils (mainly nine to 11-year-old boys) clearly intend no malice. They tell me such abuse is commonplace in Premier League football. It is obvious that they are simply copying their role models.

It is certainly not difficult to lip-read the likes of Wayne Rooney when he tells referees and their assistants to 'F- off'; what is difficult to understand and accept is why he and others are not immediately sent off.

Rarely does such an offence get a yellow card, never mind the red.

Confusingly, the same misdemeanour in a Sunday league game would result in immediate dismissal and a substantial fine. Is the vulgarity more severe in the local park? Or are we fearful of treating soccer superstars according to the laws of the game?

I note that the Football Association has sent letters to all Premiership and Football League clubs reminding them about the consequences of abuse of match officials. However, perhaps letters also need to go to the referees, requesting them to actually apply the laws at the most senior level. Then I will be able to make sense of the present confusing mess and help my Year 5 and Year 6 pupils to overcome their problem.

Mr B Sprakes Headteacher, South Parade junior school, Grimsby North East Lincolnshire

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