Cherwell believes that football and footballers are
damaged by public voyeurism
Three Leicester City players were this week informed that
charges of gang rape against them had been dropped. Forensic
evidence has proven them innocent. Yet their pictures have been
on front pages and back all over the country, opposing fans have
made their lives misery. Paul Dickov, Keith Gillespie and Frank
Sinclair will forever be names remembered for all the wrong
reasons. Meanwhile, it seems that the only way in which the tabloids
have been able to divert their attention away from this incident
is by discussing whether David Beckham has been having an affair
and, if so, how many. A man, his wife and their two sons have had
to go through a huge trauma simply because the public lusts to
hear sordid details such as “Rebecca Loos: My Story,”
Sky One’s gleefully promoted attempt to boost ratings by
feeding from the Beckhams’ misery. None of the figures above have committed any crime, but
because they are footballers, the public seems entitled to know
every detail about their suffering – and the stories,
irrelevant to the lives of their readers, sell newspapers. The effects of this are not only private. Leicester lost heart
in the latter stages of the season and their relegation was
confirmed as a result, while Beckham’s Real Madrid have
slumped to such an extent that they have just this week sacked
manager Carlos Queiroz. The players involved, with the public eye
firmly on them, have felt the heat, lost form and been unable to
focus their lives on the straightforward task for which they are
being paid thousands of pounds a week – kicking a leather
ball. The attitude that footballers are public figures “like it
or not” is damaging to current players, who, after all, are
human beings and deserve to be treated thus, as well as to future
prospects, who may be put off the game by a scrutiny of their
lifestyle which they cannot opt out of. The only time when the
public needs to know whether Beckham has scored is when he is on
the pitch.ARCHIVE: 4th week TT 2004