Following correspondence from various Leagues and after meeting with them earlier in the Season, ALL Referees are reminded that ANY Player or Official using the words “Spastic” and/or “Retard” towards another (Teammate, Opponent, Spectator, Official or Referee) is to be dismissed immediately in accordance with Law 12… Part 2…. A player who uses offensive, insulting or abusive language or gestures……
MUST BE SENT OFF.
FAILURE TO DO SO WILL HAVE SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES
The medical term “spastic” became used to describe cerebral palsy. The Spastics Society, a UK charity for people with cerebral palsy, was founded in 1951.
However, the word began to be used as an insult and became a term of abuse used to imply stupidity or physical ineptness: one who is uncoordinated or incompetent, or a fool. It was often colloquially abbreviated to shorter forms such as “spaz”.
Its derogatory use grew considerably in the 1980s. This is sometimes attributed to the BBC children’s show Blue Peter. During the International Year of Disabled Persons (1981), several episodes featured a man with cerebral palsy (described as a “spastic”) named Joey Deacon. Phrases such as “joey”, “deacon”, and “spaz” became popular insults amongst children at that time.
The Spastics Society changed its name to Scope in 1994. The words then gradually dropped out of common usage as the majority of British society came to regard them as offensive and politically incorrect.
The current understanding of the word is well-illustrated by a BBC survey in 2003, which found that “spastic” was the second most offensive term in the UK relating to disability(retard was deemed most offensive). In 2007, Lynne Murphy, a linguist at the University of Sussex, described the term as being “one of the most taboo insults to a British ear”
The comedy program I’m Alan Partridge, featuring the fictional DJ / Broadcaster famous for his unconventional, unpopular, usually right leaning views, used the word as an insult against his deranged captor having escaped from being taken hostage in one 1995 episode. It is not known when it started, but on repeat viewings the word is bleeped out.