Side Lines

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    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

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