Cursing is so prevalent in English soccer that one British educator called for games to be banned from television during the daytime last season.
Following one contentious exchange between a referee and Wayne Rooney, the Manchester United star was sent to anger management classes after he used 10 obscenities in 60 seconds.
He'll get a red card if he behaves the same way this season. The Premier League championship just started and English officials are moving to clean up the image of a game littered with bad conduct and occasional on-field violence.
"Any player who provokes a direct confrontation with a match official and uses offensive, insulting or abusive language will be dismissed," said Keith Hackett, who heads the Football Association, the group that oversees England's top game officials.
"This is about asking players to look at themselves," he said.
Criticized for being lax with players, the Premier League, the Football Association and bodies representing players, managers and referees have issued a new set of behavior guidelines.
"We are all looking to create a positive image for the game, and bad language has no part to play in that," said Graham Poll, a referee who had the run-in with Rooney. "We want people to be positive about the game and be entertained."
The players' union has even printed posters urging its members to straighten up.
Under a photograph of a player and referee arguing -- but smiling -- a caption reads: "Respect the Game. Respect the Ref."
Earlier this year, Martin Ward, deputy general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, called the behavior of many English soccer players "very childish."
"Such incidents should not be shown until after the 9 p.m. watershed, and preferably not at all," Ward said during a speech made a few weeks after Rooney's outburst. "It's making it more difficult to help our young children grow up."
He added that it was making teaching "infinitely more difficult" because students were copying the behavior of famous players.
Richard Scudamore, chief executive of the Premier League, agrees.
"In this modern, multi-camera television age, footballers' language and behavior are subject to more scrutiny than ever before," he said. "There is no doubt that what is seen on a Saturday afternoon is repeated on Sunday mornings," added Hackett.
Bobby Robson, former manager of the England, Barcelona and Newcastle teams, said standards have slipped.
"If you swear at the referee, it's a red card," the 72-year-old Englishman said. Soccer could learn from rugby, where decisions are respected and there are few attempts to intimidate referees.
"We have to bring that into our game," Robson said.
Officials also promised to crack down on angry players who surround referees after every close call. The result is often shoving, swearing and ugly scenes replayed for days on TV.
Despite the game's prosperity, officials know they have a problem.
The Premier League is the world's highest earning soccer league. Deloitte's Sports Business Group reported that the average revenue per club was $120 million in 2003-2004, 50 percent above the nearest competitor, Italy's Serie A.
It's not only the players who have behaved badly. It's the managers, too.
The feud between Arsenal's Manager Arsene Wenger and Manchester United's Alex Ferguson peaked 10 months ago when United ended the Gunners' record 49-game league unbeaten string.
Players and officials scuffled in the Old Trafford stadium tunnel after the match, and Ferguson was reportedly pelted with pizza and soup in what the British media dubbed the "Battle of the Buffet."
Ferguson called Wenger a "disgrace."
Chelsea's Manager Jose Mourinho was banned from the bench for two games last season for suggesting that Barcelona's Manager Frank Rijkaard colluded with a referee in a Champions League match.
Prime Minister Tony Blair's government has welcomed the call for civility.
"Every young footballer can remember watching their hero play and wanting to emulate them on the park or the school playground," Sports Minister Richard Caborn said. "I'd now like to see the chairmen of all football clubs back the football authorities in their desire to clean up the game."