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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 February 2008, 13:16 GMT
League moves to red card swearing
Referee at a football match
The scheme also covers managers and team officials
A football league in the north-east and Cumbria is to be the first in England to ban players swearing.

Referees in the Arngrove Northern League (ANL) second division will show an immediate red card to any players using foul language from next season.

The Football Association sanctioned scheme, which also covers managers and team officials, could be extended to other leagues if successful.

Referees will enforce the ban by rigidly applying existing laws.

'Verbal sewage'

ANL chairman Mike Amos said: "I hope it will be a first step towards reclaiming the game from the foul mouthed yobs who increasingly are driving good people - spectators, volunteers and match officials - away from football.

"I'm delighted that the FA has agreed to back us - it could be a momentous day in the history of non-league football.

"There's still a long way to go and a lot to be done, but the tide of verbal sewage with which paying spectators are greeted could at last be about to turn."

He said the league was the first in the county to be given FA permission to advise match officials on how to apply the laws of the game.

FA referees' committee chairman Ray Lewis, himself a former top referee, said that the experiment fitted well with the FA's Respect scheme, which is being trailed in junior football.

He said: "The Northern League is right to be concerned at the unacceptable level of offensive language.

"We will watch very closely how this works out."

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