Player behaviour in the Premier League is improving insists Richard Scudamore

 

The behaviour of players in the Premier League is already improving, according to chief executive Richard Scudamore.

The positivity surrounding the Olympics has put the spotlight on football ahead of the start of the season this weekend, with many people comparing players unfavourably with their Olympic counterparts.

Scudamore believes football can certainly learn from the Games, and it is a debate that is going on within the sport as well, but he was keen to talk up the steps that have already been taken at the launch of the 21st Premier League season yesterday.

In 2008 the Premier League introduced the Get On With the Game initiative aimed at raising standards, and Scudamore said: "Behaviour has improved.

"When you talk to referees, definitely the relationship has improved, and player to player as well. But we have to carry on making not just incremental gains but seismic gains.

"It's about the fans as well. It's a tribal game but that cannot spill over. There are lines that have to be drawn.

"Among the senior players especially there's a genuine understanding and concern about these issues. I'm certain improvements will be seen."

Scudamore anticipated the backlash against football which has followed the Olympics and the issue was addressed with Premier League captains 12 months ago.

Last season certainly did not show footballers in the best light at times, though, particularly the racism rows centring on Luis Suarez and John Terry.

Liverpool striker Suarez served an eight-match ban for racially abusing Patrice Evra while Chelsea and former England captain Terry was charged by police with racially abusing Anton Ferdinand. He was found not guilty after a trial, but could yet face sanction from the Football Association.

Scudamore said: "In a sense that's the game working. It was dealt with properly, punishment was served.

"If players entirely behaved themselves and never fouled anybody, you wouldn't need referees, you wouldn't need red cards or disciplinary systems.

"It's a gladiatorial contest. The Premier League is so successful around the world because people think they're going to be watching 380 contests. Therefore sometimes that will spill over. But it's catered for in the rules."

One thing Scudamore has no doubt about is that the Premier League will continue to capture people's imaginations around the world when the season starts tomorrow.

He added: "It will have its critics, but it will have more people following it, there'll be more debate in workplaces on Monday morning, and it'll be football again.

"The test will come on a cold February weekend, how many people are talking about Premier League football and how many people are talking about one of the more remote medal performances from the Games."

PA

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