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Footballers behaving badly

Why teams are afraid to discipline their own players

To footballers, lost in their never ending oasis of pound notes, starry eyed glamour and runaway egotism, shooting an intern on work experience must seem like a right hoot! What could be better than heading out to work and opening fire on lowly peasants from a poorer tax band? To the rest of us, it’s the rather unpleasant matter of a pre meditated assault and a run in with the boys in blue, no, not Cashley’s Chelsea team mates, the police! But for footballers ‘it’s a right laugh, lads’, ‘banter!’ and all other such nonsense.

So have you ever wondered why footballers seem to always get away with doing super naughty things like tapping prostitutes, stubbing out cigars in team mates eyes and shooting kids on work experience? Yes, me too. Seems a little unfair, doesn’t it? So I’ve been busy getting myself all hot and bothered this week asking why it is that footballers, like politicians, have a completely different set of rules from us lowly peasants.

After surrounding myself with like minded footy cynics, I came to the conclusion that the lawlessness and anarchism that footballers enjoy is easily bought with money. The same big piles of money that I imagine they, and their beautiful women, sleep on top of at night. But a great Yorkshireman and fellow northerner once told me that ‘piss poor preparation equal’s piss poor performance’ so it would be wrong of us all to assume that our filthy rich footballers are simply buying their way out of what they might consider to be some petty bother – some thorough investigation is required before we make our judgements.

However, in order to render my scathing cynicism unfair, we must find a reason why football clubs allow their players to run riot without punishment. Am I missing some vital football fact when I fail to understand why the Manchester United assistant manager feels he can come on television and tell millions of football fans and impressionable young footballers that Mr. Rooney’s malicious elbow on James McCarthy was ok because the referee had ‘kept the game flowing’? It was the most laughable bias imaginable and brought to mind the phrase – ‘shoe on the other foot, anyone?’ Would the FA go back and punish Wayne Rooney? Unlikely! Would there be any internal discipline? Of course not! And it is difficult not to find this an injustice.

Perhaps we should take a leaf out of the book of one of our sporting counterparts from across the pond in the USA. The Americans tell us that we should suspend our players if they break designated rules. Surely elbowing an opponent in the face or shooting an intern could be tentatively drafting in, don’t you think?

Well, a university in the state of Utah – The Brigham Young University (BYU) – is leading the way on internal discipline for its basketball team. Last week, they suspended one of their star players for breaking the rules.

Brandon Davies was given the boot for having ‘pre-marital sex’; now, nobody’s suggesting that our footballers, or indeed anyone, should be expected to keep to these rules. If we did, there’d only be the likes of super quiet and uber professional Paul Scholes left playing the beautiful game. But their other rules on drinking, smoking, drugs, and swearing seem mighty reasonable. We ought to tell our clubs to start enforcing some strict discipline on these matters.

But we should all be aware, encouraging our clubs to bend the ear of our best players can be dangerous, as the Utah University discovered. Ranked as the third best team in the country and one of the favourite to win a much sought after forthcoming tournament the team crashed out to an unranked team of rookies after suspending their randy star.

If suspending your big stars means losing games then we can expect no change in our clubs’ conduct in future!

Michael Smith


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