But seriously, the amount of abuse, vitriol and violence hurled at match officials is really quite incredible. And frequently, children are witness to these uncivil, uneducated and irrational acts. Such behaviour is quite clearly anti-social (see ASBO).
Here's what Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore regards as unacceptable behaviour:
"As to what we think is unacceptable; it's vitriolic abuse towards match officials and that has on occasions gone unpunished; the surrounding of referees is unacceptable; the goading of referees into trying to get opponents sanctioned we think is unacceptable; and also the undue criticism, where it spills over into questioning the referee's integrity or his honesty is also unacceptable."
I wonder what they will call this new campaign?
On a related note, the following are some pathetic comments from Blackburn player El Hadji Diouf who is currently on loan at Rangers (news articles here and here). Senegal international Diouf is infamous for abusing match officials, as well as other people who don't happen to see things exactly his way!
"The Celtic match where I got a red card was incredible. At first I went to see the ref as I was being kicked all over the park. The ref said to me 'You don't have the right to speak to me', which annoyed me."
HKRef: What the Referee said was correct. The fact that Diouf became annoyed is irrelevant, and therefore is no argument at all.
"The Celtic manager [Neil Lennon] insulted me, I answered back and I got a yellow card whereas he got nothing at all."
HKRef: What the Referee did was correct.
"You have to say the ref messed up the game with cards flying everywhere. I know it must be tough for him but still, I guess some refs find it hard to handle these type of games."
HKRef: Diouf's only comeback. Such disrespectful comments and criticisms are exactly what needs to be curbed.
"At the end I told the ref he was the worst ref I've ever had so he gave me another card. I said 'you can give me as many cards as you like, the match is over now'."
HKRef: I'm sure Diouf used much more colourful language than that. What the Referee did was correct.
As match officials, we can only hope that someday, somewhere and somehow there will be proper protection and proper measures in place to minimize the amount of abuse, vitriol and violence directed at officials. In the meantime, we have to rely on our resilience, tolerance, inner-strength and education to rise above the uncouth behaviour of players, managers, fans and commentators.