OK, we all know that the words Xavi uttered last week were completely over-dramatic. I mean, what does any modern top-flight footballer really know about suffering? Of course, they are human (well if you discount Messi) and could have issues in their personal family lives which everyday people like you and me could relate to. But to be used in a context – one of not being allowed to move from one big club to another, is bordering on the insensitive for some, and just adds to the common belief that today’s players don’t live in the real world.
‘I spoke to Cesc in Ibiza and he said he was suffering, because he really wants to come. It’s what he most wants, he’s done everything he can to come and wants Arsenal to let him go’, the Barcelona midfielder stated in an interview that was to be displayed on the Catalan giants official website, regarding the never-ending speculation linking Cesc Fabregas with a return to his boyhood club.
Of course (unless you’re an Arsenal fan) Xavi wasn’t looking to offend those really suffering in the world, but he should have known better than to go public with his alleged conversation with the current Arsenal captain, especially while the transfer soap-opera still rumbles on. And that’s the problem – he did know better. Barca’s vice-captain is not typical of so many of today’s superstar players in being brash, flash and loud. But he can be outspoken – particularly when it comes to his views on the game, and often talks openly about all things football related in an intelligent and measured manner. Just like the way he plays his game on the pitch, he is a thinker. So when he made those comments about Fabregas, he hoped it would, not so much add more fuel to the fire, but say throw a couple of petrol tankers on there as well!
It is not the first time that Xavi has spoken publicly about the Fabregas situation. Just last summer he continually spoke about the Arsenal man joining Barcelona in an attempt to unsettle him and Arsenal. The fact that Fabregas may well be, unsettled should be left to both himself, and his contracted club to sort out. Nobody else. However, as we all know, there is a football underworld. Throughout history players have always been ‘sounded out’ by other players and managers. It has been well known for decades, that players on international duty were ordered by club managers to sound out any potential targets whilst together. In the modern game the words ‘tapping up’ has come to the fore and FIFA/UEFA have looked to try and eradicate this (ironic, I know), punishing any clubs and managers found to be guilty. But it is hard to govern and even harder to prove. As of yet, Xavi hasn’t been punished for any wrong-doings, but should he? Should FIFA ‘gag’ players from talking about transfer speculation regarding others? Some clubs may decide to do what seems sensible, not to mention morally correct, and sanction their players from publicly talking about their current transfer targets. But whilst footballs governing bodies appear to be lax on the matter of ‘player talk’, clubs are not forced to. And Barcelona, whilst walking a fine line, are using it to their advantage.
Arsenal have come increasingly weary and angry by the way Barcelona’s players and, even directors have publicly courted Fabregas over the last couple of years, without any reprimand. It led Arsene Wenger to go on record in saying that the Catalan club had a case to answer, for ‘tapping up’. This year he has been forced to call Xavi’s latest stunt ‘disrespectful’. But is that as far as it goes? Disrespectful? Maybe. Banning players from talking and using the press to unsettle others? I don’t think so. Whilst it may really irk some supporters, it provides exciting and fascinating gossip to others – producing more soap-opera style stories for fans to follow.
What’s more, Arsenal are not the only club to have had their players publicly courted by another clubs player over the years. So what if an international teammate or friend decides to go public with a conversation? Should they be punished? As stated earlier, it may be morally wrong, especially if the other player involved thought a conversation between ‘friends’ was in confidence – but that is for both players and their individual clubs to sort out, not the footballing authorities.
Besides, I think the authorities, in particular FIFA have a lot more pressing matters to deal with when it comes to cleaning up the game. Don’t you? Until then, we will all just have to suffer the soap-operas.