Football FanCast columnist Kris Wilcox considers the case of, and potential outcome for, sacked former Chelsea striker Adrian Mutu.
In a week in which the case of cheating by Arsenal and Croatian striker Eduardo has been reported at length by the media, an all together different story involving another eastern European striker accused of a similar crime has slipped almost entirely under the radar. I speak, of course, of former Chelsea striker Adrian Mutu who, according to the Italian media, may well be forced to retire from football by Monday. It is a difficult case to have an opinion on but as things stand if Adrian Mutu fails to pay Chelsea €17,173,990 by Monday Chelsea will apply to Fifa, who will be forced to agree, to have Mutu banned.
The most obvious part to this case is that €17 million is a huge amount of money and most importantly an amount of money that Mutu does not, has not and will never have. It is of course legitimate to say that Chelsea are owed some portion of money by Mutu. As the courts decided in each of the respective sums they charged Mutu, going gradually up from the £20,000 charged by the FA to the €17 million charged by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, by breaching his contract through taking Cocaine Mutu therefore owes Chelsea. Chelsea paid a significant transfer fee for Mutu, almost certainly paid him a reasonable signing on fee and wages for the brief period he remained at the club and, most obviously, by signing as a free agent Mutu probably got a very good deal at his next club, Italian giants Juventus.
However, I simply cannot find the path Chelsea are pursuing with Mutu or his current club, Fiorentina, to be fair. To first focus upon the club, why is it that due to actions from September 2004, they must be punished by potentially losing a player they spent €8 million upon and represents the star of their team? Indeed if it is the case that Mutu owes Chelsea so much money, does he not also owe it to Fiorentina as well, from both a football and financial point of view; they stand to lose a great deal more than Chelsea from this case.
To also look at Mutu I find it very hard to believe what the courts have decided to be fair upon him. Firstly, cocaine is a recreational drug, not a performance enhancing one, and, indeed, Mutu maintains the drug he took was not even cocaine but a difference performance enhancing one – that of sexual performance. Whilst I respect entirely that Mutu is and was a professional sportsman and the taking of an illegal drug hardly reflected well upon Chelsea, did he really ever do that much wrong? The furthest punishment he deserved was the seventh month ban he received from the FA after which point hecould have continued to play for Chelsea, had they not sacked him just a month after being caught. It’s also worth pointing out that one of the most talented and respected footballers today, Diego Maradona, saw his whole career afflicted by cocaine use – yet he was never fined €17 million. Most recently in another sport we have Richard Gasquet returning to play Rafael Nadal in the U.S Open this coming week, just months after being caught having taken the drug thus losing just a few month’s earnings, not more than a whole career’s.
I would therefore say that, were Chelsea to pursue Mutu and therefore end his career, they would be guilty of being grossly unfair to the player. The courts may have gone in Chelsea’s favour but they’d win a lot more supporters, throughout the whole sporting world, were they to show a little more sympathy with Mutu and agree to an out of court settlement worth a portionof Mutu’s to date and potential earnings.
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