Shrek got angry after scoring a hat trick against West Ham last Saturday and spat a few acrid words into the camera. Now Shrek will lose 250,000 squid and miss an FA Cup semifinal because some asinine arbiters of morality in sports have decided there's no cursing on the pitch.
Perhaps the most asinine of this lot is Mark Payne, the police superintendent of Wolverhampton:
Payne keeps his own blog, where he fancies himself a wise man and the steward of innocent youth. On Tuesday, he wrote that he would have expected his officers to lock up Rooney for swearing. Then he likened Rooney to all the violent criminals his crack force sweeps off the mean streets of Wolverhampton every weekend. The place sounds like Vietnam:
I have seen a thousand Rooney's, and I am sure most police officers will have. The same aggressive stance, the bulging eyes, the foul mouthed rant, fists clenched, surrounded by his mates, all cheering him on. I have seen this on Friday and Saturday nights, as young men (and more often young ladies) enagage in a ‘good night out.' I have seen people argue over almost every kind of nonsense you could imagine. ‘He stole my place in the taxi queue,' ‘ he looked at my girlfriend,' ‘he is from the wrong estate,' ‘ I didn't like the look of him.'
Rooney has offered some form of apology, no doubt drafted by an Old Trafford press officer, apparently it was the emotion of the moment, so that is all right then. He will get a two game ban for his sins (although apparently Utd are appealing).
What he won't be able to do is alter the impression that he has left in the eyes of the watching youngsters. It is OK to insult and abuse, it is OK to react with ridiculous aggression to perceived slights or provocation, it is excusable because it is the heat of the moment.
If Rooney had behaved like that in Wolverhampton on Saturday night, I would have expected my officers to lock him up. My officers will face more Rooneys over the weekend, no doubt somebody will be injured in some meaningless fight. An officer will have to go and tell a parent that their son or daughter is in hospital as a result.
People in positions of influence have an obligation to behave like human beings. It is not a lot to ask.
There isn't a match in the history of the FA that hasn't featured a healthy dose of blue language. The poor kiddies "damaged" by Rooney's two-second outburst are already saying much worse in their pick-up games. More on point was Sir Alex Ferguson when word of Payne's bloggery reached Manchester:
There is an issue in the modern world of a need to be noticed. There is a wee guy, sitting down there in the Midlands, probably never been recognised in his life, managed to elevate himself to whatever it is in the police force.
"Have you ever seen Wolverhampton on a Saturday night? Do police ever arrest anyone for swearing on a Saturday night? Deary me. That is a good one.
We salute you, wee guy. With two fingers.