Rio Ferdinand. Good riddance, hope we don’t see you back.

22 March 2013 Comments 8

Ok, is it me or are some sports stars getting too big for their own boots? Perhaps I’m just an ageing old fool (cue private giggling from SKINS’ staff) but I really feel that many modern day ‘heroes’ are losing it and are in danger of bringing their sport into disrepute.

Of course, there’ll be many out there who’ll say it’s been going on for years, but I reckon it’s worse now than ever before.

Take the England and Manchester United footballer, Rio Ferdinand. At the age of 34, he’s had an excellent career in playing terms but bugger me, his on-field and off-field antics and his “it’s all about me” attitude, get right up my nose. A couple of weeks ago, he stood toe-to-toe with a Turkish referee and sarcastically applauded in his face because he’d sent off a Manchester United player in a Champions’ League game. Ferdinand clearly thought the ref had lost his team the game but whether he did or not is irrelevant. Ferdinand’s pathetic gesture sent out completely the wrong message. “You’re only a referee and I’m a highly paid footballer therefore I am better than you.” It’s a message that is becoming more and more prevalent in Football.

No regard for authority and no sense of self-discipline. No idea of how to behave, no understanding of the meaning of the word ‘class’.

This week, Ferdinand created more headlines by pulling out of an England squad for two World Cup qualifiers because he says he isn’t fit enough, even though he played 90 minutes for United in their game last Saturday, (March 20th). I have no issues with the principle; it happens.

But there is more to this than immediately meets the eye. In 2012, Ferdinand was left out of the England squad in favour of a player who was the subject of a racism charge against Ferdinand’s brother. Media coverage of this week’s withdrawal has suggested this might be Ferdinand’s way of exacting revenge on the manager of the England team who made that decision. Given other examples from his career you wouldn’t rule it out, especially, when you read another report in England that suggests Ferdinand will instead fly a fifteen-hour round trip to appear as a TV pundit on the first of England’s games for a TV station in Qatar!

So he can’t fly two hours to Northern Italy as part of a squad, even if it’s just to support his national team-mates for a game against San Marino, but he can fly half way round the world to talk about it? Not bad for a bloke who’s supposedly protecting a dodgy back is it? I’m pleased to read in the UK media that this is now seen as the end of his England career. He doesn’t deserve the honour that comes with wearing the white shirt.

On the subject of footballers, Liverpool’s Luis Suarez isn’t exactly a modern-day role model either. He’s gained a reputation as a ‘diver’ (he’s not alone but he’s probably the worst offender) but he also recently scored a most blatant handball ‘goal’ in an F.A. Cup match.

As a result, it denied a small non-league club the chance of a money-spinning replay they thoroughly deserved. It wasn’t a reaction that he could claim was instinctive rather than pre-meditated either. It was blatant cheating. With cameras all around the ground and viewers all around the world, wouldn’t you think that the players themselves and possibly their employers or even the sports’ governing bodies would be saying: “You get paid enough, so do the right thing!”?

You may remember Suarez used his hand to good effect in the World Cup in 2012 too. His last minute handball on the goal line, denied Ghana a winner in their quarter final tie. Ghana missed the penalty, eventually went out (ironically) on penalties and Suarez and his mates celebrated as if they’d won the cup itself. Where is the spirit or the honour of the game? Suarez has a reputation he shouldn’t be proud of and it’s simply not possible to judge a technically gifted player solely on the number of goals he’s scored. It’s sad.

But before anyone in England thinks I’m just a loud mouth Aussie (actually I probably am…) with a beef against English sport or the players who adorn it, read on.

Aussie cricket vice-captain Shane Watson was one of four players suspended from a Test match in India by his coach this month because he failed to prepare a presentation on team failings. The coach, Mickey Arthur had invited everyone in the team to present three things that they could do to reverse the current form; a move you’d have thought would’ve delighted all players who were being offered a chance to have their say.

Instead Watson and his three cohorts ignored the request. Bare faced belligerence at it’s best, I’d say. If Watson didn’t like being set a bit of ‘homework’ then for Gawd’s sake have the guts to talk about it with ‘teacher.’

Suspension was hardly a punishment either. Watson went home to Australia for the birth of his first child and is now back with the squad with the ‘misunderstanding’ straightened out. Incredibly now with skipper Michael Clarke injured, Watson has returned to the team as Captain. On the face of it, it actually seems as if Watson is being rewarded for ignoring his coach.

Surely, there are times when we have to suffer the short-term feeling of defeat for the long-term benefit of the sport? I applaud the determination of any managerial staff to make tough calls, or impose tough sanctions for the long term benefit of the culture.

So, there you have it; three recent examples of sports-star hell. Whoever, you are, cricketer or footballer, English, Uruguayan or Australian, step up to the plate and show some spine.

You’re being paid enough but more importantly you hold a position in sport and therefore society that deserves to be respected.

—–

Is there a sports star whose antics have got up your nose recently? I’d love to hear about it and I’ll compile a league table of the famed and shamed from your replies. As usual, best ones get some SKINS kit.

Congrats to Jeff Barnes and Imac for winning the SKINS kit for comments on my last blog re technology.

8 comments on "Rio Ferdinand. Good riddance, hope we don’t see you back."

  1. @wilko602 on 22 March 2013

    Okay so technically it’s not a sport though Australian politics should be. We have two teams fighting….one to save relegation and the other trying to move up into Premier League.

    The MVP for Sportstar of the Year surely goes to Kevin Rudd….the fans love him for his social media abilities and his Logie Award winning performances on the Sunrise program.

    Away from the spotlight we have an athlete well polly whom his team mates can’t stand, can’t play/ work with or bear to communicate with.

    He is the mole within a club who has destabilised what the place stood for.

  2. Neil Evans-Mudie on 22 March 2013

    Jamie,

    Nice blog. You are correct to have higher moral expectations of our sports’ stars. I’m a kids sports coach and it is a tough sell to kids to ask them to compete with the lofty ‘fairplay’ ideals when they see their heroes and idols cheating to win. Unfortunately as in PEDs (doping) in cycling & other sports, until the franchise owners and/or sponsors get penalised for their players’ poor behaviour this ‘win at all costs’ attitude will prevail. Stars behave like this because their employers: the owners and sponsors, want above all marketable and money-generating success and reward their ‘stars’ for successful performances to the exclusion of moral ‘play’.

    I could list a gazillion poor bahviours by sports stars. However I’m gonna highlight 3 sporting cases where fairplay won through:
    1. Bradley Wiggins has been hailed as “le gentleman” after he neutralised the peloton on the 14th stage of the Tour de France (2012) following the sabotage of cyclists’ tyres. Thirty riders were affected when they incurred punctures en route to Foix, and Wiggins, who had already changed bikes due to a mechanical problem, noticed the issue and halted the race. Tour etiquette dictates rivals do not take advantage of another rider’s misfortune, and defending champion Cadel Evans was allowed to return to the group by race leader Wiggins, who was praised for his “fair play”. (Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/07/16/tour-de-france-bradley-wiggins-neutralises-peloton_n_1675341.html)
    2. Myself (as a soccer & athletics coach) when playing a Vet40s social-for-fun 5 a-side soccer match… embarressed by a team member calling a ‘penalty’ for an opposing player encroaching in to the goal-keeper’s area – I insisted on taking the penalty… and promptly passed the ball back to the opponents ‘keeper. We’re all mates and for me ‘fairplay’ is the referee for our games, as it should be for all sport including referee’d and elite sport.
    3. Paula Radcliffe’s lifelong, outspoken committment to drugs-free athletics. See her twitter account, but also her continuing public support for clean sport exemplar’s by her sharing of Lauren Feshman’s Letter to Lance at http://asklaurenfleshman.com/journal/2013/01/17/a-letter-to-lance-armstrong-a-fellow-pro-athletes-plee/. It’s a legacy that’ll last long beyond her incredible Women’s Marathon record.

    There you go… by all means highlight Ferdy, Suarez (btw Bale of Tottenham has been yellow carded for ‘simulation’ more times this season than Tottenham’s Bale) & Watson, but please let’s highlight & celebrate the brilliant sporting fairplay moments like Wiggo’s and Paula’s legacy – as above.

    Cheers, g’day, Neil (UK)

    PS. Pls continue the campaign to rid cycling’s UCI of McQuaid: ‘Allez LeMond, Allez’. I’m so chuffed for Greg after the hostile treatment UCI & Armstrong have given him… My next bike? A LeMond if I can get the right price.

  3. John Bidwell on 22 March 2013

    Jamie…. good point… but you have to remember that the more footballers are paid, the more their brains shrink and their egos inflate.

    They are also incredibly stupid…. Rio F was among a bunch of West Ham players who filmed each other ‘dogging’ a pissed woman in a hotel in Cyprus and then became all hot under the collar when the Press got hold of the story and the film.

    They also mocked the victims of 9/11 in a Heathrow hotel bar on the day of the atrocity…. if that doesn’t tell you enough of the sort of sub-species from which they originate, then nothing else will.

    They are all arrogant thickos !

  4. Guy on 2 April 2013

    If you followed the game closely you would know that Rio is physically quite frail these days. The last few years he has been dogged with injury problems and he can’t play more than once a week and his training is limited to allow this to happen. With that in mind, him saying to Hodgeson that he couldn’t play two games in 4 days for England with training in between should come as no surprise.

    Should Ferdinand feel a bit aggrieved by his treatment by Hodgeson? I think so. Last summer Hodgeson was faced with a problem. He had two central defenders who used to be mates and form the heart of his defense but now one has racially abused the others brother. Who does Hodgeson choose for his squad? The one with the FA and criminal charges to answer. Ferdinand stayed at home for ‘footballing reasons’. If any doubt was needed on how Hodgeson saw Ferdinand in his plans he confirmed it when he naively talked to some football fans on the London underground and told them that Ferdinand’s England career was over. The next day it was all over the tabloid press.

    With a season or two left in the game its sensible that he starts to think about his life after playing the game. He wants to become a pundit and his commentary work is leading to this. I think that his England call up took everyone so by surprise it didn’t work for anyone. The England physios had stopped tracking his training regime, so certain were they that he wasn’t coming back. He was so sure it wasn’t an option he had committed himself else where.
    The lesson to be learnt from this is that better communication out of the public eye could have made for a much better outcome for everyone.

    Ferdinand has done and said some stupid things in the past but he is not unique there. In his prime he was one of the most naturally gifted defenders to wear the England shirt. A thoroughbred in a world of bruisers. It seems short sighted to say good riddance without acknowledging what he has done.

    • Jaimie Fuller SKINS Chairman on 3 April 2013

      Hey Guy
      Thanks for the comment mate. Whilst I appreciate and understand your view I’m unable to agree with your conclusion. As you point out, there are possibly mitigating (and highly emotional/sensitive) circumstances around this particular episode however it doesn’t change the fact that Ferdinand has behaved like a twat on countless occasions. Most people I know who actively follow sports would give their right arm to represent their country in any sport, let alone one as high profile as football is in the UK and cricket is in Australia. We have a right to expect those who represent us to not only appreciate the fact but to act in an appropriate fashion. I’m sick of hearing the old ‘I’m paid to play my sport, not to be a role model’ routine and it’s absolute bollocks.
      It’s high time that organisations like FIFA or the Football Association stepped in and set standards that are enforced re player behaviour. Ferdinand’s pathetic hand clapping in the referee’s face after the Champions League game against Real Madrid is a perfect case in point. I don’t care how much these idiots get paid; if they attack and remonstrate with the referee then they should be heavily fined and banned for further transgressions. After all, no matter how many times we see players surrounding and harassing the referee, how many times do we see him/her change their mind?
      Thanks again for taking the time to comment
      Cheers
      Jaimie

  5. Guy on 4 April 2013

    Hi Jamie

    Thanks for replying. I buy your overall point that highly paid sports stars should be role models, should realise that they are in an exceptionally privileged position and act accordingly. You are also right that Ferdinand had behaved like a twat on a number of occasions I just happen to think that there are arguments against the two examples you used. As I said in my last comment don’t disregard the 81 times Ferdinand represented England because of what happened last week. When it comes to him clapping the referee on this occasion it wasn’t because he was just being petulant it was because the ref had just had just made a shocker of a decision. It should have been a yellow card not a red and a game that was entertaining and turning into a classic was tipped unstoppable towards Real as a result of the ref’s decision.

    All sports could solve the issue players trying to influence or intimidate the referee if they chose to enforce the rules around it rigorously. If yellow cards were yielded when anyone other than the captain spoke to the ref things would change quite quickly. However I am not sure that even the ref’s would like this as many of them like to have quite a matey dialogue with the players. Unfortunately it can’t work both ways and even games like rugby union which seemed to be one of the best games when it comes or respecting the ref, often has players on both sides trying to ref the game and influence the man with the whistle.

    I think the balance is wrong in football at the moment but not drastically. If they stamped down on it too hard it would become a sterile affair. All competitive sports are highly emotive and passionate affairs. Players need to respect the ref but we don’t want to neuter them.

    • Jaimie Fuller SKINS Chairman on 4 April 2013

      Hi Guy
      Just to add one more thing mate. In a previous blog titled, “Happy Birthday Sepp, now it’s time to join the real world” I pointed out the farcical nature of referees in football doing so without the assistance of technology. You rightly mention the difficulty of referees needing to make snap decisions and how that can affect the game. The example of the Real Madrid/Man U game is perfect here for this discussion. Why the referee doesn’t have the assistance of a video ref or similar is just staggering in the 21st century. Also, whether the decision was a good one or a bad one does not excuse Ferdinand’s behavior, and nor should it excuse any other player.
      I had a similar situation happen years ago with my then 16 year old. He copped a lousy decision from the ref and gave him a gob full. He was sent off quite rightly and copped an even bigger one from me. Where do we think these kids get their examples from? We are entitled to be disappointed when this sort of thing happens but we shouldn’t be surprised. It is not a matter of justifying it as emotion mate; as you say, all competitive sport is emotive. It also is not a question of money. We see golfers repeatedly able to behave in an honourable fashion and the money involved is just as serious (more so at times) as football. No, this is a cultural issue with football that in my opinion needs to be stamped out. I don’t share your concern that football could become sterile.
      Again, I lay the responsibility at the feet of the governing bodies (FIFA/FA/Premier League) for not having the balls to stand up to the players plus implement the tools (technology) for the refs that have been available for years. These old political arseclowns who run the game have got to go. Will Carling called them a bunch of old farts. He could easily have been describing the FIFA ExCo.
      Bring on the fresh blood I say and let’s fix this once and for all
      Thanks again for taking the time to respond
      Cheers
      jaimie

  6. Guy on 4 April 2013

    I couldn’t agree more on the technology front and also on Mr Blatter’s resistance to entering the modern age. I note that goal line technology has finally been approved so by the next World Cup we will no longer have incidences of balls crossing the line and goals not being given. When it comes to having a video ref reviewing pivotal decisions in Football I am surprised it has not even been debated. In the example we have been discussing I don’t recall the ref even consulting his touch judges, although I can not be certain of it. When so much rides on the outcome of games, and I mean emotionally for the fans not financially for the money men I for one don’t mind pausing for a couple of minutes to get the right call.

    The last election for the FIFA presidency was an absolute shambles as there was only one name on the ballot paper. It seems to me that there is a closed shop of back scratching and and self interest that goes on at FIFA and a lot of the world governing bodies. Unfortunately the mechanism for shaking things up is in the hands of the people who are living rather good lives off the maintenance of the status quo. I don’t know how it will ever change unless corruption at a massive level (bribes to win hosting the world cup, for example) is exposed forcing change. Even this may not do it, as the example of the UCI shows us. Professional sports need to be run professionally by people close to the playing of the game not those who played in different era’s and have a vested interest in keeping things the same.

    You are of course right that if kids are imitating the bad example of professionals then something must change. Golfers do manage to do it right. Would it be that way if it was a contact sport? I don’t know. I think the physical separation of the players helps keep things civilised. The most emotive moments in sport tend to happen when one player has just clattered into another. The one thing you can be certain of is that sport will always provide endless debate. I have enjoyed this one.