Most teenage soccer players who swear at a referee might expect to be banned from the game, but when 14-year old Owen Thompson told a referee to “eff off” during a British youth soccer league game recently, he actually had a medical reason.
Thompson suffers from Tourettes Syndrome, characterized by the individual’s involuntary facial tics and outbursts of swear words.
Although the boy’s mother was able to prove to soccer officals that her son has been diagnosed with the medical disorder which explained his rude behavior, officials showed little compassion or mercy, banning Thompson from participating in two games and insisting on a fine of L25.
His mum Melanie Burgess, 37, said it was “ridiculous” a teenager with Tourette’s had been banned for swearing.
She said: “After the game the referee went over to Owen’s manager. He showed the referee the medical card that shows Owen has Tourette’s syndrome.
“But last week we learnt he has been given a two-match ban and a £25 fine. It’s ridiculous.
“Football is a really important part of his life.”
Ware Youth under-15s manager Alistair West said: “You can’t ban a Tourette’s sufferer for swearing.”
Thompson told the news media that his swearing usually gets out of control when he feels under extreme emotion or stress and when a goal was scored against him in the recent game, he involuntarily swore at the referee making the judgment call rather than being able to take the disappointment in stride.
According to National Tourette Syndrome Association, Gilles de la Tourette syndrome (Tourette Syndrome or TS) is a neurological disorder which becomes evident in early childhood or adolescence before the age of 18 years. Tourette syndrome is defined by multiple motor and vocal tics lasting for more than one year. The first symptoms usually are involuntary movements (tics) of the face, arms, limbs or trunk. These tics are frequent, repetitive and rapid. The most common first symptom is a facial tic (eye blink, nose twitch, grimace), and is replaced or added to by other tics of the neck, trunk, and limbs.