Wayne Rooney was absolutely right to brand the frenzied reaction to his drunken night following England’s victory over Scotland a “disgrace”.
While getting drunk on international duty is far from professional conduct, The Sun’s sensational story, in which they quoted an unnamed agent as stating that the Manchester United striker showed “echoes of Gazza”, was an attack on his dignity that completely blew out of proportion the magnitude of his offence.
However, equally as disgraceful is the silence surrounding Rooney’s dissent in Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Arsenal.
Shortly after coming on as a substitute, Rooney was shown a yellow card for dissent towards an official. However, his body language towards referee Andre Marriner remained aggressive.
Rooney, no doubt fired up by the drama of the past week, looked refreshingly hungry and enthusiastic.
However, no official should ever bear the brunt of a footballer’s pent up frustration, and the fact that Rooney’s aggression has been overlooked by the public is a sign of how far standards of respect have fallen.
Rooney is, of course, far from a lone perpetrator. His manager, José Mourinho, has a penchant for disrespectful comments on referees dating back to his first spell at Chelsea, when his criticism of Anders Frisk led to the Swede receiving death threats.
When Zlatan Ibrahimovic accused Mourinho’s Chelsea side of putting undue pressure on the referee in their 2015 Champions League clash with PSG, then Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard described their behaviour as “normal”.
In reality, it is anything but.
If English football fans and journalists truly care about the image of their stars, then they should heap pressure on players who show signs of dissent – as well as senior players who openly condone it.
The Premier League made progress when they introduced new dissent rules at the start of this season. However, there is more work to be done by all parties involved in football.
The treatment of officials in our sport is a far more pressing issue than a player winding down at a wedding after a hard-earned victory.