Cape Town – Why is there such a dislike for the characters of the game by football’s leaders?
It’s a question that has been bothering me for some time now, especially as we have seen “the death of the football character” in South Africa.
This week Sepp Blatter had to apologise to Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid for mocking the player during a talk at a British university. He mocked Ronaldo’s strut on the field, as well as the Portugal forward’s well-groomed hair.
Then he compares Ronaldo to Lionel Messi, insinuating that the Barcelona star has won more personal accolades because he is a “nice boy, someone a father can be proud of”.
Of course Messi is Messi, and I don’t think he has won as many World Player of the Year crowns because he is a “nice boy”. Although the Spanish tax authorities might not think the Argentine forward and his dad are model citizens.
There is no doubt that Messi is leading this generation of footballers, but why does the man running him close have to put up with so much ridicule and hate? Why is the talented and boring player celebrated, but the gifted and charismatic one being mocked around every turn?
Imagine what golf would be like if there were only men like Jason Dufner on the US PGA tour and no Tiger Woods. Yep, television ratings would be lower than George Bush’s IQ.
James Small wasn’t everybody’s cup of tea, yet he was a damn fine rugby player, while we all know how that maniac Herschelle Gibbs entertained the Newlands faithful for almost two decades.
But both these sportsmen will never be celebrated like Chester Williams or Jacques Kallis because they weren’t “good boys”.
Maurice Green used to be my favourite sprinter, purely because of the way he used to strut his stuff before the starter’s gun went off. The same goes for Usain Bolt. They are showmen.
South African football doesn’t have players who are entertainers and also win you matches. Benni McCarthy was probably the last of that breed, a man who had the charisma and the talent. Look around the PSL right now, the closest you get to that sort of player is Itumeleng Khune, although he has the sportsmanship of a serial killer.
Football bosses love the good guys, but people like Blatter should embrace the Ronaldos because they bring something different to the game, even if it comes with cockyness and large amounts of hair gel.
In South African football these days, a player can get a fine for just about anything. You can’t even display a message under your t-shirt anymore, and players have gone into their shells.
As a result, the crowd attendances have dwindled and the atmoshpere is dead at most matches. So maybe it’s time the PSL and Blatter let their hair down and encourage players to be, well, themselves. Otherwise football is going to become stale.
TWEETS OF THE WEEK
@GaryLineker: Delighted @GarethBale11 is fit again and showing his undoubted ability. How quickly we like to write people off! An extremely sad trait.
@SeppBlatter: Dear @Cristiano. I apologise if you were upset by my light-hearted answer at private event on Friday. I never meant to offend you. (1/2).
@SeppBlatter: I am an honorary ‘socio’ at Real Madrid @cristiano & explained we’ve many talented players in world game, including you. Best wishes. (2/2)
WHO TO FOLLOW
@Pele: The legend celebrated his 73rd birthday this week.
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