Kevin Garside: Football is a game befouled by excuses for the lack of respect

The Way I See It: Football is wholly responsible for the tolerance it affords to offenders

An unprecedented year of sporting achievement rolled into one night of awed reflection. The Olympic Games in London represented a high watermark in British athletic endeavour and audience participation. There is something truly magnificent about the way sport at its best expresses the good in humankind, and how the organisation of it harnesses the spirit of community. It was hard, even for the treacle monitor at the BBC, to lay it on too thick at the ExCel Arena last night.

Anyone else out there wonder what the football family made of the Sports Personality of the Year parade? Did they connect with any part of it? Did they recognise the sentiment, the values celebrated? Did the Olympic spectacle suffer for the grace shown in victory and magnanimity in defeat? And what about passion, that great fallback of the football apologist, who defends excess in the name of it? Did Wiggo lack passion? Jessica Ennis? David Weir? Mo Farah?

Football is supposed to be the sport of the man in the street. Its under-representation at last night's party ought to trouble its conscience. It was good to see some leadership taken by the boss of the players' union, Gordon Taylor, who expressed in a letter to president Platini his deep unease at Uefa's inadequate response to the racist violence perpetrated in Serbia against England Under-21s. Now let's see Taylor fire off another missive in the direction of his own members, rebuking them for the moronic deportment that continues to eat away at the soul of the beautiful game.

Standard of behaviour on the field of play is the single most important issue in British football today, yet each week we witness the roll-call of dishonour paraded before us in a festering dungheap of disrespect and cant and barely a peep from Mr Taylor. When the police are called to investigate this abuse or that, Taylor can be seen making a grave pronouncement about football needing to address the problem. Lip service.

Last week Lord Ouseley quit the FA Council over the game's failure to tackle racism resolutely. Racism is a function of a fundamental lack of respect for others. There are myriad manifestations of that. Even on a quiet weekend, Mark Halsey was left with no option but to book Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic after he charged out of his box to remonstrate.

A N Other bawls foul, defiant, expletive-ridden dissent at a decision that didn't go his way. Boo-hoo, did the official rule in favour of your opponent? String him up. Too little recoiling in the dugout, either. Indeed, the revolt is often led by an overheating manager berating the fourth official over the "injustice" perpetrated by the inadequate arbiter out in the middle.

Alastair Cook was sawn off 28 balls into his innings at Nagpur on Thursday for the return of one run. The lbw decision was marginal at best. But up went the finger and off he went. Whatever private misgivings he may have had, he accepted the decision. When the TV replays returned him to his torment, an ironic smile and a shake of the head were sufficient to register his disposition. But disbelief at being given out to a ball missing leg stump did not for one second threaten acceptance of the umpire's call.

I can hear the defenders of the football faith raking over cricket's crimesheet, the betting scandals, the convictions for throwing games, to suggest football is no worse than any other sport. The rugby blood-capsule disgrace is another used to support the same argument. This misses the point. The episodic bad stuff serves to illustrate how routine the good stuff is. Football is so awash with the bad stuff its prevalence is viewed as part of the game.

The crass disregard for decency is endemic. Of course players engage in charity and community work, but all that is undone as soon as the whistle blows. Football deserves our sympathy in some respects, particularly in regard to the policing of vile, sociopathic banter, racist or otherwise, coin-throwing and similar affronts to humanity. But it is wholly responsible for the tolerance it affords on the pitch to offenders who habitually abuse officials and each other, which in turn feeds the mood in the stands. When their work is done, their bile spent, off the players pop into the moneyed abyss of their disconnected lives, ignorant of the power they have and the damage they do. A cursory glance across the playing fields of England reveals sundry youngsters engaging in the same behaviour, coaches and players throwing obscenities, insults and sometimes punches at opponents and officials in a grim reprise of Match of the Day.

Every expletive screamed in the face of a referee, each show of blowsy defiance, is all the justification required for the dolts in the stands to follow suit. Hey presto, the abuse and the coins rain down and football continues its slide into the midden. The clean-up starts on the park. If not, how long before decent folk say good riddance and walk?

Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
Jonathan de Guzman of the Netherlands and Willian of Brazil compete for the ball
world cup 2014LIVE BLOG: Hosts Brazil take on the Netherlands in third-place play-off
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer Tommy was last surviving member of seminal band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Several male celebrities have confessed to being on a diet, including, from left to right, Hugh Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ryan Reynolds
life...and the weight loss industry is rubbing its hands in glee
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
Arts and Entertainment
'Eminem's recovery from substance abuse has made him a more potent performer, with physical charisma and energy he never had before'
arts + entsReview: Wembley Stadium ***
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice