Basketball: Clampdown on swearing

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The basketball authorities, mindful of their family sport image and increasing live television coverage, have directed referees in the Budweiser and National Leagues to clamp down on swearing by players and coaches.

Mike Smith, the Budweiser League's chief executive, said: "Over recent years it's become an increasing problem in sport generally and we've seen an increase in basketball. We want to protect the positive things about our image."

The often violent physical confrontations in basketball and split-second decisions by officials offer plenty of potential for tempers to boil. The proximity of the team benches to spectators means that most comments can be heard by at least some of the crowd.

Sky Television's Sunday night live coverage is particularly vulnerable to picking up the "audible obscenities" that referees have now been ordered to listen out for. Violations will be punished by technical fouls, with the possibility that repeated offenders could be thrown out of the game.

England international Ronnie Baker, who hopes to play on the Continent this season, is expected to make his debut for Manchester Giants tonight against London Towers.