It seems impossible now to go more than a few weeks without a media story breaking that exposes the alleged infidelity, criminality or immorality of a Premiership footballer.
Whilst in a utopian society every individual would subscribe to the narrow excuse for hypocritical morality prescribed in today’s modern media, this in reality cannot be held true for even the most noble of professions, let alone that of professional footballer.
Therefore it is both worrying and frustrating that in recent years the actions of footballers are as likely to adorn the front pages as they are the back of many of the most read British publications.
In previous generations no one seemed to give a damn what footballers got up to after the final whistle, players would go out and drink, womanise and misbehave with carefree abandon.
In these times a professional footballer would only have to convince his wife and not the public that the girl he was spotted kissing in a nightclub was just his friend or that she should take antibiotics because you ‘can never be too careful with your health’.
A time when being a little rough around the edges was acceptable both on and off the pitch, when shirts were pulled, tackles were full blooded and diving was something that belonged in the swimming pool. A time when the night before a match could involve a threesome or a bar crawl and a hangover was all part of the pre match routine.
However now the boundaries between on and off the pitch problems are blurred, fed by the predominantly female demand for ‘gossip’ media the private lives of footballers are open to the public. This is particularly true for those who go out with the type of woman who sees footballers as a path to their own fame and fortune.
This publicity crosses over from the gossip magazines to the terrace with the hypocritical taunts of opposition supporters who conveniently chastise the behaviour of opposition players, whilst ignoring the behaviour of their club’s players when crafting terrace taunts.
This cross over can in some instances cross over and affect performance or even selection decisions, it is still a year since the John Terry saga, in which a personal problem could have been settled in house seeped into the media fuelling the flames and speculation
Maybe this is a sign of the times; I still believe that thirty years ago any differences would have been settled between the two players on the training ground with the only publicity being curiosity to how John Terry injured his eye.
Footballers are not perfect and football fans know this and to be honest the majority do not care, supporters do not idolise footballers for their personal attributes, they idolise their skill and passion for the game.
The example for this is George Best, a man who despite his talents was regarded by many as a womanising alcoholic. However it was his prestigious talent that people focussed upon and although his off field activities were reported, it was his football that people wanted to see, his football that made him famous and his football that will be remembered for decades to come.
The irony is that this media attention is not driven by those who watch football at all; it is more likely to be their wives and girlfriends providing the demand that fuels the ‘celebrity’ status of footballer’s wives and girlfriends that in turn makes the actions of footballer’s front and back page news.
In short football fan WAGs have helped create the beast that is the footballer WAG and the tangled web that this encompasses.
Therefore in future when a story breaks that attempts to shame a footballer, for being weak and unable to resist the 36DD glamour model that was offered to him on a plate or dare I say it for a fee,
I urge you not to blame the player, blame your girlfriend
The next time the striker in the team your support seems distracted by something outside of football and fluffs an easy chance in front of goal,
Don’t blame him, blame the media.
After all if she didn’t buy the magazines that probably exposed his cheating, he would still be a wholesome family man scoring both home and away, whilst his wife or partner would be none the wiser and everyone would be happy.
I mean ok, no one wants their player to be breaking the law or cheating on the mother of their children. As no one wants them to miss matches as they have a court date, or have to babysit the kids as the onlyday they could get custody was Saturday afternoons.
But no one is perfect and with a bottomless pit of money, poor advice and endless amounts of time players are going to make mistakes and that’s just the intelligent ones let alone the players who think that you can fail an IQ test.
So remember in future, don’t let the media fool you, it’s not the player’s fault he can’t keep it in his trousers it is the media’s fault for bringing it your attention, oh and I suppose for letting his wife know.