RUSTENBURG // Steven Gerrard, the England captain, has stressed the need to avoid swearing at referees during the World Cup to cut out the risk of picking up suspensions. Referees are reported to be under instructions from Fifa to clamp down on foul language during the four-week tournament in South Africa. Similar guidelines already exist in the Premier League and the Liverpool midfielder knows the importance of England keeping all 11 players on the pitch if they are to do themselves justice.
He said: "You just don't swear at the refs. It is important in this day and age for referees to be respected. "If you don't do that, then you are booked and then the team suffers. Everyone has to be on their guard. "To be fair, we don't get away with it in the Premier League either. The job is difficult enough with 11 players and we have suffered a couple of times in the past from having people sent off."
One of those was Wayne Rooney - against Portugal in the 2006 finals - and his self control has again been in focus this week with his booking against the Platinum Stars for dissentw. But Gerrard has urged Rooney to take any frustration he may feel out on his opponents - starting with tomorrow's opening clash against the United States in Rustenburg. Gerrard said: "I am not sure whether Wayne is going to be targeted by USA but he is experienced enough to deal with it.
"Wayne understands we need him on the pitch. He is a fantastic player and he has to make sure he controls his frustration and takes it out on the opposition." Gerrard is declining to comment on the exit of Rafael Benitez, the Liverpool manager, who yesterday was appointed as Inter Milan's new head coach, or his own future at the club until after the World Cup. He said: "I said in Austria that all my focus is on England and the World Cup and nothing has changed."