Sports Minister Hugh Robertson wants football to clamp down on swearing.
The issue was raised by the recent John Terry trial, which demonstrated that obscenities were traded routinely between players in the course of matches
Robertson said: "It is entirely in the hands of the FA as it is entirely in the hands of any other governing body to regulate their own sport."
He added: "But the RFU (rugby union's governing body) have pretty much a zero tolerance policy on this sort of thing. If anyone behaves like that on a rugby pitch they get dispatched pretty quickly. It is entirely up to the FA, working with the leagues, to take a stance on it.
"The solution lies within their own hands. If they decide they want to stamp this out they can simply increase the penalties for it and it will be stopped."
Wayne Rooney once swore at referee Graham Poll 27 times in the first half alone during a Manchester United match against Arsenal in 2005 and the FA's subsequent Respect programme has appeared to make little difference to on-field swearing.
Robertson added: "If they (the FA) feel as a result of the John Terry trial that this needs clamping down on, and I would entirely understand why they think it might, then they have the means at their disposal to do it.
"I personally have never understood why this thing is tolerated in football and I would have thought tougher penalties for foul language would in general speaking be a good thing, but it is a matter for the FA. It is not a matter for government."