Sports Editor's Blog: Time for refs to get tough with the wind-up merchants
Our world can seem a blighted, worrying place, especially while it's manoeuvred around by set of ego-driven leaders who appear at best dumb, and at worst, psychotic,
There are many, many worse things to be mithered about than the irritating behaviour and hypocrisy of a few professional footballers.
Even in football there are far more serious things to be concerned with than the spleen I’m about to vent - any time an FA suit opens their flappy mouth, for example.
This is way more frivolous than an expensively-attired chief executive using the worst juxtaposition in history by listing the Star of David in the same breath as the Swastika and Robert Mugabe.
I’m talking goal celebrations. Not the silly routines which appear to have taken half-a-week’s training to master, but the goading of opposition fans.
At the start of the season, a passing topic for debate was referees booking players for over-celebrating with their own fans.
It stemmed from Raheem Sterling’s second yellow card and sending off for this very thing after scoring a stoppage-time winner.
So be it. But if that is the line that’s been drawn, then surely it must also apply to goalscorers who intentionally wind up rival fans.
Jamie Vardy is just one example among many of this puerile practice.
Whether it’s running around with his tongue lolling around like a thirsty spaniel, or cupping his ears and mouthing advice.
A sustained burst of it after his brilliant equaliser at West Brom was spotted by referee Bobby Madley and earned a few words. But no card.
Dele Alli also cupped his ears to the Bournemouth fans after scoring that weekend, an update on the old terrace anthem ‘you’re not singing anymore’.
It seems to have become a statutory part of celebrating up and down the country, along with raising a finger to your mouth to shush dissenting voices.
The disparity in punishment is confusing and referees should act.
Which scenario out of celebrating wildly in front of your own fans and riling rival supporters is more likely to start crowd trouble?
The police and stewards can hardly be thanking players who deliberately stir up tempers they are employed to keep a lid on.
I can completely understand how tempting a gesture must be in the heat of the moment; I can only imagine the sort of garbage that high-profile footballers have to put up with at games and in the wider world.
I’m fortunate never to have been subject to warped verbal abuse from a sizeable crowd, although this job can come close.
But I also know what would happen if I didn’t show a little restraint under unfair provocation - the fast track to my P45.
Gesturing disrespects those who help professional footballers earn rewards that are inflated out of all proportion to what their paying customers (bleurgh, that word) can hope for.
Supporters are the ones who lift players on to pedestals, pay TV subscriptions, buy merchandise, make them marketable brands (bleurgh again) and help them live a privileged life.
Okay, it comes at a cost. Copping vile flak from the more intellectually-challenged among that group must take irritation and frustration to wild extremes.
But they are handsomely compensated to take that flak and process it where it belongs - in the bin marked waste of time.
You’ve scored a goal, doing what you dreamt of as a child. Remember that and forget the spite and the haters.
* I couldn’t help but agree with Dani Alves last week as his words echoed across that platform of sense and sage opinion: Twitter.
It must have been quite a bleak moment for the third-most decorated player in history when he told the world “Thank God my children don’t like soccer. It has become a business. Everyday I enjoy it less and less.”
Noble of him to wish better for his offspring and steer clear of the thrusting corporate behemoth which keeps the soul of football prisoner, locked up deep within its cavernous bank vaults.
Then I remembered it was Dani Alves. The player who last summer prised a few extra squillions from the business he loathes by joining Paris St Germain.
Now I can’t decide whether it’s if you can’t beat them join them, or pots and kettles, glass houses and stones.