Every time a paper is opened these days it seems that there is always a well-known footballer in the headlines due to some type of unsavoury off the field action. It might be a Twitter indiscretion, a driving violation or a temporary case of amnesia where their wedding vows are concerned. Whatever the case, it seems that now more than ever footballers feel that their job and status that comes with it seems to give them the right to do pretty much anything they want.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are obviously some players who lead quiet lives and keep their heads down, and no one is a better example of this than Paul Scholes, who is what can only be described as the consummate professional, and tackling aside, is a total credit to both himself and the club on and off the field.
Sadly however it seems that Scholes is becoming more the exception than the rule, with numerous footballers now hitting the headlines on a weekly basis for things that had they been in a ‘normal’ profession I very much doubt they would do. Parking in disabled spaces or going so far beyond the speeding limit you may as well enter qualifying for Silverstone is something that is all too common for footballers, and something that is quite frankly a disgrace.
As with any article commenting on the off the field antics of professional footballers, you cannot get away without mentioning the women. It may be fame hungry WAG wannabes who will stop at nothing to seduce a footballer or get a flimsy piece of information that constitutes a middle page spread in The Sun, or an injunction that made millions of Harry Potter fans wonder why ‘he who must not be named’ was appearing in their papers next to Imogen Thomas every day.
All that pales in comparison to the growing number of sexual assaults footballers are linked to, and again, is a very unsavoury side to the game and the heroes we cheer for every single week.
Perhaps the problem is that we forget that footballers too are human, and flawed characters, yet have an excess of pretty much everything which tempts them further into problems than so called ‘normal’ people. It is also an extremely valid defence of a player who appears in tabloids time and time again to say that the papers are somewhat obsessed with printing a story about them, something which is all too true in the case of Mario Balotelli – yes he may bring a certain amount onto himself, but the amount of non-stories the papers print is tantamount to stalking!
One arrival that will have given all managers a massive headache is the phenomenon that is Twitter – players who have, shall we say a less than stellar IQ, or ones who are in the heat of the moment tend to tweet less than advisable things, and ones which are guaranteed to keep the tabloid press wheels turning for days.
Again it is something that a ‘normal’ person does not have to contend with – we have a few hundred followers, not a few hundred thousand, yet footballers have to understand that their margin for error is that much smaller because of who they are and what they do – not that much greater, and the sooner they do that, the better for both themselves and the reputation of the game.