In today’s Guardian newspaper, Daniel Taylor reports that Manchester United is planning on playing a friendly in January as a testimonial. The issue is that the match will be played in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and it’s a 6,000-mile round trip.
To repay Man United for taking this friendly during their regular season, the Red Devils will receive more than $2 million.
While clubs are free to make decisions on their own whether to risk injury or fatique from traveling, I’m more interested to see what the reaction will be from the UK press and football fans over the next week.
Imagine, for a minute, that the friendly was to be played in New York City at the Meadowlands instead of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. After all, Manchester to Riyadh is a round-trip of 6428 miles, while Manchester to New York round-trip is 6692 miles.
If the Glazers had decided to play the friendly in the States instead of Riyadh, the next few days would be filled with articles by bloggers mocking and whining the decision, while the UK journalists would assuredly write several pieces lamenting how the game is being sold out to American corporate interests and how the influence of the Glazers over Man United is fueled by greed.
Double standards? I think so.
While you’re surfing the Internet and reading articles on your favorite soccer websites over the next few days, keep a running tally of how many articles by bloggers and journalists criticize Man United and mock Saudi Arabia. I would hazard a guess that you’ll see very few, if any, and that the whole story will be overlooked – for the most part – until January when you’ll see a few articles criticizing Man United the team for taking the trip without blame or mocking being aimed at Saudi Arabia. Sounds like hypocrisy to me.