Football: Banned Gascoigne defends verbal abuse of linesman

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The Independent Online
THE MIDDLESBROUGH midfielder Paul Gascoigne has defended his right to use "industrial language" after being sent off for swearing at a referee's assistant in Saturday's home defeat by Chelsea.

The dismissal is the latest setback in the turbulent career of the player who is still holds ambitions to play again for England.

"I only want to say one thing," he said. "What is the world coming to when you get a red card and fined two weeks wages for calling a grown man a wanker? It's an adult's game out there. What's wrong with a bit of industrial language in the workplace?"

The 32-year-old started the season determined to prove to the England manager, Kevin Keegan, that he was the man to guide the nation into the Euro 2000 finals, and embarked upon a major fitness campaign to demonstrate his commitment. But just a few short weeks on, one of the most natural talents of his generation finds himself embroiled in controversy once more.

The form of Paul Ince and Juninho's return as well as the after-effects of a troublesome calf injury, meant that Gascoigne had to settle for a seat on the bench on Saturday. But his emergence as a 71st minute replacement for Brian Deane signalled the beginning of yet another unsavoury episode in his career. Gascoigne had already escaped punishment for a series of rash challenges when he vented his frustration on the linesman in a colourful outburst which cost him a red card and consequently a fortnight's wages and a two- match ban.

He earned sympathy from the Chelsea captain, Dennis Wise, himself no stranger to referees. The former Wimbledon midfielder tried to intervene with referee Paul Alcock on Gascoigne's behalf, but to no avail.

"I asked the referee not to send him off and to give the man a chance," he said. "He had only been on the pitch for 15 minutes or so. It was injury time and it wasn't going to change or alter the course of the game. I've stayed on the pitch for far worse."

Gascoigne has started just five games for his club so far this season, and even though Andy Townsend has left for West Bromwich, the competition in midfield is intense.

The Boro manager, Bryan Robson, remains a huge fan and is confident that the midfielder is still capable of giving his side something special, but he needs to produce some form quickly to confirm the manager's faith and persuade the fans that he has a lot to offer.

The Premier League confirmed that officials have been instructed to crack down on bad language.

"Referees have been told to take a tougher line with respect to offensive, insulting or abusive language from players on the field," said a spokesman.