Wayne Rooney has been charged by the FA for using offensive language after he swore into a camera after scoring against West Ham on Saturday. Rooney has accepted the charge but plans to appeal against a two match ban (which could increase to three if his appeal is deemed frivolous).
Rooney apologised for his language after the game, saying "I want to apologise for any offence that may have been caused by my goal celebration, especially any parents or children that were watching.
"Emotions were running high, and on reflection my heat-of-the-moment reaction was inappropriate. It was not aimed at anyone in particular."
That should’ve been the end of it, maybe someone at Man Utd should have had a word with him, but it seems apologising wasn’t enough for the FA.
Anyone who’s ever watched a game that Rooney’s played in knows that he swears. A lot. He was stupid to swear directly into the camera after scoring, and further dented his own reputation in the process, but I don’t see the need to suspend him for it. He didn’t do anything violent, he wasn’t trying to cheat, he wasn’t disrespecting a referee, he just did what you or I probably do, swear in the heat of the moment.
Now I can understand why some people will be upset by this, they’ll say that Rooney is a role model, has set a bad example to kids etc.etc. However, remember Rooney is a man who used prostitutes while his wife was heavily pregnant, so I don’t think swearing into a camera is what makes him a poor role model.
Besides, any child in England who attends school will have learnt that word (and many worse ones) at a young age in the playground. If they go to a match they’ll hear bad language all the time. They’ll hear it on TV, in films and in music. I don’t buy the argument that it’s worse because it was on TV. Watch any Premier League game and I’ll bet that you hear an individual or a group of fans swearing during the game. Look at any crowd shots of fans when one of the opposition scores/ get injured/fouls someone and you’ll see loads of people swearing. During the West Ham-Man U game, you could clearly hear some of the chants directed at Rooney and they contained swear words.
One of the things that make Rooney the player he is, is that his game is based on aggression. Sometimes he goes too far and his aggression gets him into trouble, but more often than not, he makes it work in his favour.
So while he released his aggression in the wrong way by swearing into a camera after completing his hat-trick, it probably came from the same place where he found the inspiration to score it.
I can remember Edwin Van Der Sar and Micah Richards swearing in post-match interviews after a game, and there will be other examples of this and no action was taken on them or any other players before Rooney.
Sky are far from innocent in this either. They have a cameraman positioned on the touchline to get a close-up shot of the players, capturing their raw emotions during points of the game. If they stick a camera in the face of someone who has just singlehandedly put his team into the lead from being two goals down who has been subjected to abuse throughout the game, they can’t be surprised if it picks up something they don’t want their viewers to hear.
The FA and Premier League can’t expect to have it both ways. They can’t allow TV companies to show the raw, aggression of Rooney and others like him, playing on adrenaline entertaining crowds while expecting him and other professionals to behave like they’re on a Victorian croquet lawn.
Considering that the FA didn’t charge Ashley Cole for shooting someone and continue not to take any real action against players who cheat, it seems ridiculous that this is the issue that they have seemingly chosen to take a stand on. Where does it stop? Are they going to charge every player that swears on a pitch (which is most of them) or just those who are unlucky enough to get picked up doing it on camera? What about players who don’t speak English? Are the FA going to hire a group of interpreters to watch every game, so nobody slips through the cracks?
The head of the PFA (the players union), Gordon Taylor is critical of the FA’s actions, saying "Whilst the use of foul and abusive language is not condoned, there is an acceptance by all parties within the game that 'industrial language' is commonly used.
"It becomes an issue when directed towards match officials. However, when used in a spontaneous way in celebration or frustration then it is not normally expected to merit a sanction.
"If sanctions are to be imposed in such circumstances then this has to be done in a balanced and consistent manner, and participants made aware of this fundamental change in approach."
There are many more pressing issues that the FA has to address. They seem to finally be starting to do something about players cheating, officials getting abused and disrespected. There’s a parliamentary select committee into the way football in England is run happening at the moment. So it seems strange that they’ve chosen an issue that would be a long way down on anyone’s list of the problems in football as the one to tackle.
Rooney swearing into a camera wasn’t the right thing to do, or a good thing to do. However, it doesn’t seem right that he has to miss games because of this and the outcome of the league and FA Cup should not be decided by a players foul mouth.