Steve Coppell has declared it is time for football's law makers to force players to show referees more respect.
The Reading manager is convinced the Football Association, Europe's governing body UEFA and its worldwide equivalent FIFA need to act now to stop the problem getting out of hand.
Speaking hours after Chelsea and England defender Ashley Cole appeared to turn his back on referee Mike Riley following a potentially dangerous challenge on Tottenham's Alan Hutton, Coppell insisted a tough stance would have implications not just for the game at grassroots level but for society in general.
He said: "The rules are there and can be amended to really guarantee respect.
"We had an initiative a couple of years ago where, if you disrespected the referee, a free-kick against you would be moved 10 yards further forward.
"After one year it was taken off as being ineffective. I thought that was the one positive, significant step the rule makers have made in recent years.
"To see the way officials are abused by players on a game-by-game basis it's no wonder we have problems in society.
"I genuinely believe if we refereed football games the way rugby games are refereed there would be a compound interest effect throughout society.
"This week I watched the reserves, where one of my players was fouled and had to go off for treatment. It is the most ridiculous rule but has stayed on the statute books for years because FIFA and UEFA say that is what you have got to do.
"If FIFA and UEFA said something that was fundamentally constructive in demanding respect for officials then they would have a lot more credibility.
"They are the ones who make the rules. We need better rule direction from the governing body. Get the rules right and you will get the respect right.
"If you look at games, 10 or 11-year-olds abuse referees the same as they see their heroes do on the telly. Even the referees say you can't do anything about it in football - but why not?
"It is everywhere. You switch a telly on for a game and you don't have to be a lip-reader to know what is being said. There is a lack of respect for authority."