Phil Neville believes footballers need to look at themselves if they are to avoid the "frightening" barracking they receive from supporters.
Earlier this week, Portsmouth centre-back Sol Campbell claimed the abuse "gone too far", in the wake of the reception he was given by Tottenham fans last weekend. Neville fully appreciates Campbell's stance, as he and brother Gary have often been the targets of fearsome abuse in the past.
Yet he concedes footballers "do not help themselves", primarily because of the vitriol they are seen handing out to referees.
However, the 30-year-old Everton captain also feels young players earning fortunes at clubs have it far too easy.
"As footballers, we need to look at ourselves," Neville said on BBC Radio Five Live's Sportsweek programme.
"Eighty to 90% of footballers handle themselves with dignity and in the right way.
"But it's a small minority that are letting us down, and the vast amounts of money we earn means we have a lot of responsibility and are there to be shot at.
"If we are going out for a drink then you have to make sure you are going to the right places and behave in the right way.
"If you don't, let's make sure the punishment is severe enough so you don't do it again.
"But I look at the young kids at clubs now and they don't seem to have the same upbringing in terms of punishment and things like that.
"There's a softness coming through, not helped by the foreign influence.
"I know when I was an apprentice, I not only did my football duties, I went to college one day a week and I also cleaned boots, showers and cars.
"Nowadays, they are not allowed to do that.
"I asked a young apprentice at Everton the other day to fill the fridge up with drinks for the first team and the youth coach said he was not allowed to do that.
"I find it incredible there is that softness because young players are being paid vast amounts of money, and they don't seem to be working for that money.
"Too much is coming too soon to these players. There isn't that toughness I know I had when I was an apprentice."
But when seasoned professionals are viewed by those same young players firing a verbal volley at match officials, Neville knows it is a case of practising what is being preached.
"We don't help ourselves," he added.
"We need to look after ourselves a lot better than we are doing, both on and off the pitch, but it is only a small minority.
"For young kids coming through, it is only right for them to look at us as examples.
"Having a go at referees, and the language used by footballers nowadays, is not acceptable. Maybe that's where we need to improve."