Are footballers breeding a culture of greed?

In a nation that idolises spoilt footballers, it is hardly surprising some people are so quick to loot London's streets.

    Rooney and other popular players need to be cautious of the influence they have over young fans [GALLO/GETTY]

    If you spend too much time thinking about the causes of the recent rioting in the UK it's easy to get oneself in a pickle.

    In the last few days, two arguments have repeatedly popped up in debates, neither of which are entirely convincing.

    The first argument is that the rioting was simply the result of opportunistic criminals who wanted to add to their BlackBerry collection and didn't give a damn about who they hurt in the process.  

    The second argument centres on an impoverished underclass who have nothing to lose from rioting and have suffered from a capitalist system that is spiralling out of control. 

    How anyone can claim they know the answer to this one is beyond me, however, one ugly human trait has definitely played its role in the rioting and looting – greed.  

    The London rioting was driven by greed. Lots of people got involved because they realised it was a rare opportunity to get something for nothing.

    But rather than throwing the first abusive term you can think of at the young people involved in the riots, it might be worth analysing the type of society that has allowed such selfishness to breed.

    "Forget the enjoyment of the game, forget the positive messages sport should be delivering to the world, the predominant message football gives out is the value of money above all else"

    And we need look no further than football.

    It is undeniable that football has a huge influence on the lives of people in the UK, particularly amongst those with less cash to flash.

    Football is a blessing to the British in a number of ways. It unites local communities, gives men something to talk about, keeps people healthy and is a great way for men to escape the nagging Mrs.

    But while we should be looking up to our football stars athleticism and dedication, instead the game is turning into a money-obsessed circus that centres around a spoilt group of primadonnas who are teaching our youngsters a worrying set of morals. Primarily, that money and materialism should be valued above respect, honour and hard-work.

    Even at the very top of football, greed and selfishness rules. The world's governing football body FIFA is never far from the headlines with endless tales of bribery and corruption. Match-fixing scandals increasingly plague European football with ongoing scandals in Italy, Turkey and Greece.

    Forget the enjoyment of the game, forget the positive messages sport should be delivering to the world, the predominant message football gives out is the value of money above all else.  

    But FIFA and match-fixing scandals to one side (as lets face it, these issues are far too boring and intangible for the public to really care about), the real problem stems from the attitude and greed of the footballers teenagers have stuck up on their walls.

    Back in the 1980s, Gary Linker was admired for his fair play and dedication to the game. Today, Wayne Rooney and the like are admired for their $150,000 per week salaries and the number of prostitutes they sleep with. 

    Footballers were never the most admirable bunch but by giving them such monumental salaries we have put these men up on a pedestal that few of them deserve.

    Up on their lofty pedestals, these players are idolised by young impressionable boys regardless of their heroes' affairs, gambling addictions and night-club scuffles. 

    And who can really blame them?

    The UK tabloid media spends hours chasing around the most spoilt and greedy footballers so they can plaster their faces on the front of newspapers and magazines. The stories may be critical but their constant obsession with Ryan Giggs and co. legitimises these footballers as celebrities.

    The press should know better… because the underlying message they are sending out is that greed and selfishness is okay. It will at least get you in the papers…

    In football, it is accepted that Carlos Tevez should earn $250,000 per week regardless of whether he plays. Or regardless of whether there are millions of people starving in East Africa.

             The spoilt attitude of players like Balotelli sends a bad message out to football fans [GETTY] 

    We also understand why Manchester City let Mario Balotelli park his Bentley in the wrong place outside the club. Isn't he just talented and misunderstood?    

    Instead of football giving our vulnerable youngsters the strong morals they need in a difficult world, it highlights society's sickening obsession with image and materialism.

    And other sports aren't much better… Just look at the incessant greed of Formula One, a sport that Bernie Ecclestone considered hosting in Bahrain despite its awful human rights. American football almost didn't kick-off this season because of an ongoing dispute over money between the players and the league. These sports stars already have more money than they know what to do with and yet they fight for more! 

    Money has tarnished football. The world of sport has become much less palatable since people started making so much darn money out of it. 

    But until society's priorities change, there appears little we can do to heal it.

    While it would be naïve and unfair to blame the riots on football's culture, the sport could have done much more to prevent the development of such a selfish generation.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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