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Aidan O'Hara: Ferdinand's ban for tweets little short of #ridiculous

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Rio Ferdinand received a three-match ban for a tweet while on-field incidents like Joe Hart's confrontation with referee Michael Oliver during the Manchester derby  go unpunished. Photo: GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images

Rio Ferdinand received a three-match ban for a tweet while on-field incidents like Joe Hart's confrontation with referee Michael Oliver during the Manchester derby go unpunished. Photo: GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

Rio Ferdinand received a three-match ban for a tweet while on-field incidents like Joe Hart's confrontation with referee Michael Oliver during the Manchester derby go unpunished. Photo: GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images

Tu madre, do mháthair, yo mama, ihre mutter, tua madre, ta mere. If football is a universal language, the universal insult which can be used worldwide is something that translates, in Dublin at least, is "your Ma".

The beauty of such a juvenile phrase is that it can be used in any environment, usually starting in the schoolyard, and is adaptable to any situation. Insult: You're ugly; Response: Your Ma's ugly. Insult: The state of your clothes; Response: The state of your Ma's clothes. Insult: You did poorly in your geography mock exams; Response: Your Ma did poorly in her geography mock exams.

It's childish, ridiculous and, if you want to get uppity about it, slightly pathetic but if it's the worst insult you receive in your life then you've done pretty well.

Last Tuesday, Rio Ferdinand found out that the bastion of fun that is English Football Association don't take too kindly to such phrases as they fined him £25,000 and banned him for three games after he questioned the activities of the mother of some guy called @ManCunian56.

Mr @ManCunian56 had suggested to Ferdinand that "Maybe QPR will sign a good CB they need one"; Ferdinand replied by saying "get ya mum in, plays the field well son! #sket".

It's not a stretch to think that most people of the mainly white, middle- to upper-class folk that are in charge of the FA had to look up the word "sket" and when they found that was a Caribbean slang term for a promiscuous woman, Ferdinand was charged. Given that the FA has a North Korean-esque success rate of over 99pc in its disciplinary hearings when it decides to bring charges, he was unsurprisingly found guilty.

Infamous

Had Ferdinand not used the word 'sket' he would probably have got away with it, which brought to mind the infamous incident with Ferdinand's brother Anton and John Terry when the Chelsea player uttered the words "f****** black c***" and was banned for four games. Had he simply refereed to Anton as a "f****** c***", that, presumably, would have been just fine.

That's because for all the juvenility of football and other sports, at a professional level, it is a game for grown-ups and, if somebody slags off a person for no particular reason, they shouldn't really get offended if that person decides to respond.

It was reported that there was a formal complaint made to the FA over the nature of the tweet and, although the complainant wasn't named, they must either not watch football or are the type of people who go to a match, aren't bothered by hearing some of the abuse hurled at players but a response from one of the over-paid, cosseted millionaires sends them to Directory Enquiries to find the number of the local police station.

Emmanuel Adebayor ran the full length of the pitch to celebrate in front of Arsenal fans after scoring for Manchester City against them five years ago but, what is less well remembered, is that Greater Manchester Police had to waste time deciding whether to investigate Robin van Persie for his celebrations in front of the City supporters.

Police received a complaint after Van Persie scored at the City end, which was hardly his fault, and then was alleged to have mouthed a swear word towards the supporters. Whoever made the complaint needs to find a nicer sport.

In Ferdinand's case, the FA's statement elaborated that "this breach was aggravated pursuant to FA rule E3(2) as the comment included a reference to gender" and ordered - ordered, no less - Ferdinand to attend and education programme arranged by the FA within four months.

Quite what this education programme would entail is unclear but Ferdinand's tweets about his day in class will be interesting when, presumably, a lecturer will tell a man growing a brand on the back of six million Twitter followers where he is going wrong.

The Ferdinand brand has rather overtaken the Ferdinand player and it's no coincidence that QPR's three most recent performances - albeit while only picking up three points - have been achieved with Richard Dunne and Steven Caulker at the heart of the defence, with Ferdinand on the bench.

While there, Ferdinand would have seen and heard plenty of obscenities on the pitch and coming down from the stands and wondered what's the difference between what he has done and what goes on at every football ground, at every level, every week.

The FA decided not to take any action against Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore after sexist emails were leaked, while Malky Mackay and Iain Moody haven't received any punishments since their text messages were made public.

The FA would argue that both of these incidents were private whereas Ferdinand, via Twitter, made his public and, with the £25,000, made it over £350,000 that the FA has picked up in fines over Twitter comments since 2011.

If they want to bolster their coffers still further, they can take their definition of public to every Premier League game where thousands in the ground and millions watching around the world see players use, as the FA put it about Ferdinand, words that are "abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper".

Yesterday, the majority of players in the Manchester derby could be easily lip-read mouthing words that on a phone's predictive text facility would have been changed to 'ducking'.

Joe Hart even got in the referee's face for not booking a United player but once nobody's Ma was insulted, everything should be fine.

 

Tweets of the week

Monday

Carlton Cole (@CarltonCole1): I've never got my head round ppl picking their nose and eating their bogey. Yuck - On a bad day, you'd worry the West Ham striker might miss the target.

Tuesday

Wendell Pierce (@WendellPierce): SUNDAY THE SAINTS WIN THE FINAL IN IRELAND! - We don't normally include actors in this section but when they're in The Wire and they're wishing St Pat's good luck in the FAI Cup final, we do.

Wednesday

Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5): Cup of tea & jam on toast in the mornings..... With Jeremy Kyle on the tv thrown in.... - On the day when he received a three-match ban and £25,000 fine for a tweet, the QPR defender plays it very, very safe.

Thursday

Mesut Özil (@MesutOzil1088): no, this is neither a red carpet nor a magic carpet. it is just the place where I'm working for my comeback - The technique seems to be excellent, although you can be sure some people would like to see more sweat and effort from the injured Arsenal playmaker. Just like on the pitch then.

Friday

Joey Barton (@Joey7Barton): Can someone from the @FA send me a list of offensive, ban-incurring words I can't use online and the requisite bans attached to each. - Rio Ferdinand's team-mate tries to clarify matters following his ban.

Saturday

Alexis Sanchez (@AlexisSanchez): Happy with the game and for my team mates. Thank you - The Chilean is another Arsenal man who, you suspect, may have been to the gym.

Sunday

Jamie Carragher (@Carra23): Michael Oliver has forgotten that Fergie's retired! - The former Liverpool man on why Man City didn't get any penalties.

 

The question nobody asked

How long have Sunderland's Monday blues lasted?

When your team has lost the last two games by a combined score of 10-0 the opportunity to make amends in front of the TV cameras should be embraced but, given Sunderland's Monday night record in the Premier League, it would be understandable if many of them chose to watch tonight's game with Crystal Palace from behind the sofa.

Their run without a win on a Monday night stretches back to April 1, 2002 when a team managed by Peter Reid beat Leicester City 2-1 thanks to two goals from Claudio Reyna.

Since then, there have been a mammoth 20 games in which Sunderland haven't won on a Monday night, including consecutive weeks last season when a 2-1 defeat at home to West Ham was followed up by a 5-1 hammering at the hands of Tottenham.

Gus Poyet's men will hope it can be third time lucky against a London team but, given their record on a Monday, perhaps they would be wise not to trust in any omens.

 

The bet you should have done

Southampton to beat Hull, 10/3

Hull are a decent team at home but it's a rarity for a team second in the Premier League to be playing against them at such a high price. Victor Wanyama's early goal put Southampton and punters on the right road.

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