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  Wednesday, 17 July, 2002, 12:38 GMT 13:38 UK
You're reffing joking!

Anyone of a nervous disposition should be careful when attending Premiership matches next season.

For you are likely to witness some truly horrific sights on the pitch.

Think players having a joke with the referee, opposing teams refusing to swear at one another, Martin Keown pulling out of a tackle...

OK, so the last one was a joke, but thanks to a new refereeing directive, abusive behaviour could be a thing of the past.

Refereeing guru Philip Don has decreed that any player using foul or abusive language faces a red card - as long as the insult was "willfully directed".

Looks like Roy Keane could be in for a very long season - or a very short one, depending on which way you look at it.

Still, there's a few loopholes to be explored - namely the definition of willfully directed.

John McEnroe
You cannot be serious

Keano could claim he was directing the abuse to a nearby team-mate, or rehearsing what he was going to say to the traffic warden later.

Failing that, there's always the old John McEnroe classic - "I was talking to myself!".

Alternatively, he could insist his comments were taken out of context and leave the field of his own accord.

But perhaps the safest alternative is to cut out the expletives altogether and learn a whole new language.

To help Roy out, we've compiled a little phrasebook containing what he would normally be inclined to say and a more respectable alternative:


Old Roy:
What the **** do you think you're ******* playing at? That was ******* ****, ref!

New Roy:
Well referee, I have to say I'm not fully inclined to agree with that decision, but wouldn't the world be a dreary place if we all thought the same?


Old Roy:
You think that was a bad tackle, you ******* ****?! You wait until the second half, I'll rip your ******* head off and spit in the ******* hole.

New Roy:
Terribly sorry, old chap - I seem to have mis-timed that challenge, which is most unlike me. Just to show there's no hard feelings, I'll take you out for a drink after the game.


Old Roy:
Are you ******* blind, lino?! You need to get your ******* eyes tested, you ******* short-sighted *******!

New Roy:
With respect, Mr referee's assistant, you may be due for a visit to the opticians, but you made your decision and I will of course respect it.

By the way, I've yet to meet your father and, as I understand it, so have you.


Philip Don
Right, that's another 10p for the swear box

But let's leave the final word to Mr Don, who when trying to explain the new ruling, said this.

"There is a very fine line between what is frustration and what is dissent. Dissent is a cautionable offence, not frustration.

"But if they step over that line, and frustration becomes dissent, then that's a caution, and if the language is willfull and is directed at them, then that's a dismissal offence."

And we wonder why there's a communication breakdown between players and officials.

See also:

16 Jul 02 | Football
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