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Obscenities? No language barrier for referees

RUSTENBURG, South Africa - Watch those mouths, boys. Same for fingers, elbows, fists and anything else that could be construed as, uh, universal gestures.

The Brazilian referee and his assistants for tomorrow's England-United States game are brushing up on the lexicon of English-language obscenities.

The crash course in cursing is thanks in part to hot-tempered English star Wayne Rooney, who ran his potty mouth during a warm-up match this week.

But swearing a blue streak isn't the only thing that could lead a referee to toss a player from the World Cup. Obscene gestures and overly aggressive behavior are big no-nos, too.

"In this day and age, I think it's important to show the referees some respect," England captain Steven Gerrard said Thursday. "You don't use any language, because then you'll be booked and the whole team suffers. You don't want to fall into that trap. We've had experience of losing big players at important times."

On Monday, Rooney was given a yellow card after referee Jeff Selogilwe claimed the striker swore at him. This came during a meaningless exhibition game against a local club team.

"He is a fantastic player and we don't want to take Wayne's fire away from him because that's the type of player he is, always on the edge," Gerrard said. "Wayne himself just has to make sure he controls his frustrations in the right manner - and takes it out on the opposition and not the referees."

Especially when the referees can understand his every word. Referees can't give out cards for what they think was said, and FIFA requires World Cup referees and assistants to be proficient only in English.

FIFA denied reports that match officials have been given lists of swear words. But one member of tomorrow's officiating crew said they're boning up on English and American curses. Carlos Simon will referee the match in Rustenburg, assisted by Roberto Braatz and Altemir Hausmann.

"All players swear and we know we will hear a few," Hausmann told Brazilian broadcaster Globo Sport.

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