Benoit Assou-Ekotto has given his perspective on the actions that Wayne Rooney undertook whilst his wife, Coleen, was pregnant as well as the culture that engulfs football. The Tottenham Hotspur left back has been quoted saying: “The tendency in football at the moment is that as long as you’re not a prostitute sha**er then it’s OK, it’s no big deal.” He further goes on to give an explicit statement concerning Rooney’s behaviour by stating: “Wayne’s not very well and it’s a dirty thing for his wife to know he had relations with a prostitute. He was seeing the same bird for seven months.” This interview was given to the French football magazine So Foot and came before Spurs played Manchester United at the weekend.
In Assou-Ekotto’s words can be seen the generalised depiction of football players’ mentalities, in that if you’re a football player you are someone important and justifiably so due to the large amount of money you earn. He goes on to depict the self-importance that football players give themselves by saying: “The whole problem with football players is that they really take themselves seriously. We kick a ball around and we earn 100,000, 200,000 or even 300,000 Euros a week. We don’t improve the world. It’s not like we invented hot water. We just kick a ball.”
Does Assou-Ekotto speak then for the majority of fans feelings towards players such as Rooney, who cut arrogant and pretentious figures? It’s a hard judgment to make without categorically and painstakingly questioning a vast amount of football fans. With this in mind we can still reason to the best of our ability and claim that Assou-Ekotto is probably voicing the assessment that the majority of people came to concerning Rooney. The fact that Coleen was pregnant is probably a further exacerbating factor that led to many people shaking their head in dismay and that Rooney had done such an act on a previous occasion. It also transcends the Rooney case and applies to the stereotype of professional football players, like any stereotype this is a negative one.
Assou-Ekotto isn’t shy in expressing his thoughts and is a rare voice in the football area, for he speaks honestly. Whether people condone what he expounds or not isn’t his concern, he merely states reality as he observes it. He understands that most people have to work hard to gain material possessions or a satisfactory level of comfort, whereas he doesn’t have to exact the same sort of energies. He recognises that by saying: “I was gifted at sports and quickly tried to find a cushy number. And today I have a great job. I work a maximum of two hours a day and I do it to make money, like anybody else in the world.” The difference is that his position is enviable and far more rewarding than many other peoples.
Assou-Ekotto prefers players such as Deco who have returned to their native countries, using their fame and fortune to help charities. The appeal of the glitz and glamour football lifestyle doesn’t appeal to him and he finds it hard to conceal his feelings for some of his fellow professionals. Some of his statements may seem brash, rude and audacious, but he acts as the whistleblower within the institution of football, giving us mere mortals the conformation that certain players need a reality check and thankfully they aren’t all alike. I agree with Assou-Ekotto’s sentiments and find it refreshing that a current player won’t hide his feelings merely to appease certain quarters. Sometimes he doesn’t profess his views as eloquently as he could, so as not to offend, but he is a football player after all and not a diplomat.