One of the many things I don’t understand about professional footballers is why they would put fellow pros in such awkward situations. Luka Modric spoke post-match in the World Cup qualifier between Croatia and Wales of his desire for Gareth Bale to re-join him at Real Madrid. Surely openly suggesting Bale should leave his current club, does nothing but upset fans and make life more difficult for the winger. Also having endured two extensive summer transfer sagas you’d expect the Croat to have a greater understanding and awareness of the awkward spot he just put his teammate in. Further it damages his connection with the fans who watched him blossom into a world-class midfielder.
This incident is the worst of its kind because Modric should have more respect for his former employers, but it is not an isolated case. When on international duty for Spain Cesc Fabregas was subject to endless encouragement to play for Barcelona. The former Arsenal man was famously wrestled and made to don a Barca shirt after Spain’s World Cup triumph. Eventually it appeared that speculation got the better of Fabregas who was often lethargic and bellow par in his year at the Gunners. He infamously cost Arsenal a goal with careless back heel during their enthralling Champions League tie with the Catalan club. I find this incident of players stitching up each other far more understandable. It was done in a moment of joyous celebration and also players based in Spain would maybe have less of an understanding as to just how important Fabregas was to Arsenal. Although former Barcelona youth team goalkeeper Jose Reina’s role in the prank was somewhat more careless considering how long he has been based in Liverpool. But I would still dismiss this as good run after an excellent World Cup victory.
One of the most obscene pieces of disrespect I can recall from a footballer offending fans was Mario Balotelli’s decision to wear an AC Milan shirt while he was still contracted to Inter Milan. While footballers have allegiances from before they break in at the first team that cannot be helped and shouldn’t hidden, the point remains fans deserve more respect. Long-time Liverpool veteran Jamie Carragher is from the Blue side of Merseyside but still understands more than most the responsibility and respect required when playing for Liverpool. The fact Balotelli was tactless enough to be seen showing support for the rivals of his supporters shows a lack of awareness and judgement which is fairly inexplicable considering the Italian’s position of privilege.Although when listed among the 22 year old’s other displays of immaturity is the most shocking footballing act.
My club Sunderland have been severely disrespected by players happy enough to pick up a wage on Wearside. First Lee Clark appeared at the FA Cup final with Newcastle fans wearing a t shirt saying, “sad makem ba****ds”. Insulting the fans of the club that pays your wages is unacceptable, and to defend such actions as peer pressure or banter would be massively miscalculating the passion and emotion involved in supporting a football club. This action was the ultimate slap in the face of fans who accepted the midfielder despite his allegiances to Newcastle United. He would go on to play for his boyhood club Newcastle and remains one of the most unpopular figures on Wearside for his moment of ill-judgement and ill-discipline.
Liam Noble of Carlisle United is also another Geordie who found himself a few miles down the road at Sunderland, where he was given his break and opportunity in football, only to disrespect the Wearsiders. The young central midfielder enjoyed success in the Black Cats youth set-up and reserve sides but ultimately failed to make the grade at the Stadium of Light. Noble found a home at Carlisle and soon after, making his move between the clubs’s permanent chose to mock his former employers online, in a series of explicit tweets. This delusion that after a season of decent performances at League One level means you can command a position of power to mock those who believed you couldn’t makes it a much higher level is staggering. While also not having the intelligence to think it’s unprofessional and unwise to mock another club and its fans on Twitter, displayed a staggering show of unintelligence of even for a modern footballer. Noble was made to apologise and quit the social networking site.
Talking about footballers contracted to other clubs is just one of many ways footballers should think more carefully before opening their mouths. They have a duty to act more respectfully to those who turn up every week to help fund their giant wage packets.
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