IT was inevitable that a day or so after the Football Association had launched its “Respect” campaign to persuade players to be more respectful to referees, one of the worst examples of disrespect would be seen by millions of TV viewers watching the Tottenham v Chelsea game last Wednesday evening. Ashley Cole's refusal to give his name verbally to the referee after a dangerous tackle and instead to turn his back so that the hapless official could read it instead was disgraceful; his subsequent apology did little to make amends.

Even worse in this incident was the attempt by four Chelsea players, including captain John Terry, to harass the referee Mike Ashley who took a dozen steps backwards in alarm. There are two issues here. The first concerns an individual player's attitude to the referee when he has committed a foul; if the player argues aggressively or acts as Cole did he should be shown a red card at once. The second concerns the hustling of referees by players not involved in an incident for which the official has stopped play. This is outrageous and should be ended by one means or another. The simplest solution would be a rule which makes the captain of a side the only player able to speak directly to the referee about a decision. The alternative would be the deduction of points -- a harsh measure likely to lead to other problems. But something must be done if players cannot discipline themselves.