There was no need for a jury in the court case of Carlos Tevez this week. The verdict, and what his punishment should be, was almost instantaneous by the millions of watching fans, media reporters, writers, ex-players and FIFA/UEFA officials. Sack him! Ban him for life! Let him rot in the reserves! Or just plain old ‘flog him!’ which was probably meant more in a medieval sense! By refusing to come on as a substitute with his team needing goals, Tevez had left his manager Roberto Mancini (himself, no stranger to petulant acts as a player) shaking with anger.
Then came mutterings from the City camp that legal teams were looking over the player’s terms and conditions to see if they had a case to terminate his contract without compensation over a ‘breach of contract’ by not fulfilling his job role. Really? Would that not give Tevez exactly what he wanted all along, stretching back to when he first announced he was unhappy in Manchester?
Regardless, the verdict was ‘guilty’, in spite of what Tevez and his entourage of staff would then try and have anyone believe. ‘It was a misunderstanding’ they bleated, trying to exercise some immediate damage control. That just made things worse and people got angrier. If the Argentine was to just hold his hands up and admit he was wrong, but was in the wrong frame of mind to play – in the heat of the moment he made a mistake, then maybe the backlash wouldn’t have been so severe. But now he is football enemy number one. The thing is, why are people acting so shocked and surprised?
Tevez may be a product of greed in today’s modern era of the sport, but he is far from the first, nor the last footballer to act this way. Since when have footballer’s ever been perfect role models? Yes, the money he earns is a ridiculous amount for a job so privileged and one may expect a certain amount of professionalism – but in the end, footballers have always misbehaved. The long list of Tevez’s antics may indeed be money-motivated but sadly, that is commonplace in today’s game. Besides, City weren’t complaining when their vast bundles of cash were enough to entice Tevez (as well as various other players) to join their ‘new money’ revolution, then embarking on a gloating advertising campaign across the city of Manchester. They knew exactly what they were getting when the signed the Argentine; a mercenary. A soldier for hire. A player with a chequered past in loyalties and money-grabbing, stretching back to his days in South America with Corinthians and his partnership with MSI. A modern-day footballer.
We don’t have to look too hard, or back too far, to see various other incidents of misbehaviour and lack of loyalties, going on by our footballers in the Premier League, some worse than Tevez’s brief act of petulance in the heat of the moment. Luka Modric for one, refused to play at the beginning of this season because he was denied a move to Chelsea. Javier Mascherano did the same to Liverpool before moving to Barcelona. Even the supposed ‘angel’ Paul Scholes once refused to take part in a League Cup tie such was his anger at losing his starting place in a league game. Who remembers William Gallas’ alleged threat to score an own-goal, if he wasn’t allowed to leave Chelsea? Then there’s the countries hero Wayne Rooney. His off-field misdemeanours are too numerous to go into here but football-related, how about him holding his own club to ransom and threatening to join their cross-city rivals, all to ensure a nice fat pay-rise?
Away from the watching millions on TV as Tevez made himself public enemy number one, barely a few hours later another Premiership player was going to hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons. After a shock defeat to newly-promoted Norwich, Sunderland manager Steve Bruce came under much criticism. Stepping in to defend his boss come Titus Bramble who stated that any talk of Bruce being under pressure this early in the season was ridiculous, and that ‘in the dressing room we are 100% behind him’. After offering those words of comfort Bramble promptly went out to the local nightclub, became intoxicated then allegedly sexually assaulted a woman in the back of a taxi and was arrested – hours before he was due to report in for training. With friends like him does Steve Bruce really need enemies?
It was yet another, and here’s the really sad part, so clichéd, example of a Premier League footballer hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Are we really so schocked by it all, given the past record of the modern footballer.
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