Having watched yet another football match where the players constantly spoke back and swore at the referee, I wonder if it is about time that something was done to change this.
The obvious comparison is with Rugby (Both Rugby Union and Rugby league) where backchat from players is virtually unheard of. In the rare instances this occurs this is punished by moving a penalty forward in the opposition's favour or a sin bin. Players know that foul language directed towards the referee will not be tolerated, why is it that football is different? Rugby players call the referee "Sir" where as what many footballers call the referee cannot be repeated! Having played both club football and club rugby I feel this difference is a marked one, but it would be so simple to change.
If the premier league were to to take a stance on this and book or send of players for foul language, as the law of the game allows, then players would very quickly learn. Quite possibly there would a few weeks of mayhem, as players became accustomed to the new implementation of the laws, but it wouldn't take long to settle down. The behaviour exhibited by football superstars is undoubtedly emulated by children across the country, and the example that is currently set is that this behaviour is acceptable. As the major populist sport in the UK, football is part of every day life for many of us, and as such impacts much more than just how people behave on Sunday league football pitches across the country. A wholesale change to how football is refereed in terms of player discipline would send a clear message to football obsessed youngsters that that sort of behaviour is not acceptable.