Oh, give me a break! Of course footballers are not moral examples, any more than they are intellectual examples or examples of unostentatious good taste. Expect the telly and the pubs to be ruined all summer in genuflection to these illiterates, drunks, junkies, thugs and sex maniacs. And to their husbands.
People have had it out with me on here in the past for daring to criticise that “working-class” game, with its season tickets so obviously pitched at the manual labouring market. Well, each England player’s new strip is bespoke – measured for, and then run up by, a Savile Row tailor. Each new member of the squad now goes through this, as a sort of initiation. What a touching act of solidarity in the current economic climate.
I sometimes wonder why the really big Premiership clubs still bother with football. They are so rich that they could name a “squad” of simple beneficiaries of some sort of trust fund. The fashion, the glamour, the gossip, the drugs, the drink, the sex, the lot could then just carry on as before, with no need for training sessions or what have you. Who would be able to tell the difference? The pricing of the working classes out of football, its legendarily bad treatment of its staff, and its use as a sort of circus of performing chavs as there might be performing seals or the performing monkeys like which they are now even trussed up, cannot be tolerated for ever. Or, indeed, for very much longer at all.
If you are still minded to describe football as “the sport of the working man” or whatever, then you need look no further than Sunderland away to Portsmouth last May. On a Monday evening. The evening of a normal working day, followed by another normal working day. There was no possibility of getting back to Sunderland any time before five o’clock on the Tuesday morning. It would have been on the Saturday, and many people had already paid for accommodation in Portsmouth that night. But it was moved. On the orders of Setanta.
Ah, the beautiful game…