In a decision his mother called "ridiculous," a British soccer league suspended a 14-year-old player with Tourette syndrome for cursing at the referee, The Sun reports.
Owen Thompson, playing goalkeeper last month for Ware Youth in the Hertfordshire Football Association, reportedly objected to a goal scored against him and told the offical to "f--- off."
Melanie Burgess, the boy's mom, said she showed the referee a medical card proving that her son has Tourette syndrome -- which can cause tics and involuntary swearing -- but to no avail, according to The Sun. He was barred for two games and fined £25.
"Football often suppresses my tics, but I cannot control them when I get upset or stressed," Thompson told the Mirror.
League head Nick Perchard said officials concluded that the lack of respect Thompson showed to the referee afterward had nothing to do with his Tourette syndrome, so the player merited the penalty, the Mirror reports. An appeal was rejected, although the punishment was later reduced to a one-game suspension and £15 fine.
Thompson has a role model in U.S. national soccer team goalkeeper Tim Howard, who also has Tourette syndrome. Other athletes with the condition have excelled as well, including David Beckham, former NBA star Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (Chris Jackson) and ex-Minnesota Twins player Jim Eisenreich.
Tourette syndrome can take many forms, and coprolalia, the symptom that can involve outbursts of cursing, "is present in only a small minority of people with the syndrome," according to Disabled World.