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Youth soccer player with Tourette Syndrome fined for swearing at ref

Dec 5, 2012, 4:53 PM EDT

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Possibly my favorite episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm involves Larry befriending a chef who has Tourette Syndrome. When the chef begins involuntarily swearing so that everyone in the crowded restaurant can hear, Larry also begins swearing, and soon every diner joins in, all to make the chef feel at ease.

Too bad youth soccer officials in Britain haven’t seen that episode. These people have hearts of cold, hard stone.

A 14-year-old boy who suffers from Tourette’s was given a two-game suspension and a £25 fine (yep, apparently they fine kids over there) for swearing at a ref during a match. The boy’s mother showed officials a medical card showing that her son had Tourette’s and couldn’t help himself, but after a review the suspension and fine stood.

Owen Thompson, 14, told the ref to “f*** off” after he awarded a controversial goal against his team. The keeper for Ware Youth was handed a two-match ban and a £25 fine for using foul and abusive language.

The frustrated schoolboy from Stanstead Abbotts, Herts, who once had trials with Watford FC, said after the FA’s decision he is now considering quitting football.

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.”

However, Owen’s punishment has been reduced to a one-match ban and a £15 fine. Probably to help mitigate the bad publicity.

Owen said he was inspired to keep playing by Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard, who also has Tourette’s.

“He is my inspiration,” Owen said. “I look up to him.”

But no one looks up to the over-officious prunes who run this youth soccer organization. According to them, Owen’s affliction is all just an elaborate ruse so that he can get away with swearing at refs. The next time this happens, one of Owen’s teammates should also begin swearing, joined by the entire team, and then the entire opposing team. That’ll curb this league’s enthusiasm for making stupid decisions.