Footballers are amongst the last people I’d ever listen to for many reasons, some of which are contained in recent posts. However, I was quite impressed this week on hearing one interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live. Unfortunately, I can’t recall who it was. It may have been Gary mabbutt, I know he was talking about something but I can’t remember whether it was this topic or something else.
Basically, it was to do with resepct for the referee. There has been a lot of talk recently about footballers & the way they act on the pitch (& off it, come to that) particularly towards the referee. I think someone who gets paid a squillion pounds a minute for kicking a windbag around a field & diving all over the place turned his back on a referee who was admonishing him last weekend.
There were contrasts between football referees & rugby. I played rugby both at school & local club levels when I was a young PC. I remember that the referee’s word was God. You never argued & if you ever spoke to one or acknowledged him you used the word ‘sir’.
On the rare occasions you did back-chat the ref he would pick up the ball & march your team 15 yards back towards your own line. If you made a comment about that, he’d march you back another 15 yards. Do that once or twice & the rest of the team will make sure you never open your mouth again. As far as I’m aware that is s til the case today; I heard one of the England internationals on the radio this week saying they still called the ref ‘sir’.
Anyway, back to the footballer, Mabbutt or whoever it was.
He basically said that if footballers & managers can’t show the referee some respect & find it acceptable to argue the toss over every decision, swear at them & slag them off at every opportunity then is it any surprise that the rest of society is like this all the time. He acknowledged the important tole footballers have to play as models for a large section of society & appeared to accept that they were letting society down, badly.
Mind you, it was less refreshing today when one of the managers came on the radio to say if referees want respect then they ought to give it to the players. With that attitude form one of the guys who runs the teams, there’s really not much hope.