The combustible Zlatan Ibrahimovic threatened to “hurt” Nedum Onuoha, an act that infuriated the former Manchester City defender, who dismissed Ibrahimovic’s apologies. Photo: Reuters

In a week in which sensitivities are heightened – preening, precious politicians will do that to you – trust sportsmen to come to the rescue.

England’s Joe Marler, the rugby prop, is a colourful bloke at the best of times, but the Harlequins man outdid himself while waiting for Exeter scrumhalf Nic White to box-kick last weekend.

“You’re f***ing boring me, hurry up!” he blasted the Australian, articulating the thoughts of hundreds of fans.

PR men were doubtless in a spin and the grannies of social media vented their spleens, but Marler deserved praise for his deconstruction of the mind-numbing prattle of the average player.

It’s a disease that afflicts sportsmen everywhere.

Except this week. In a TV studio of all places, Alan Shearer tore up the rule book, declaring “Manchester United are f***ed”. Nothing like cutting to the chase on live TV, is there?

But quite the most remarkable tête-à-tête involved long-distance runners Mo Farah and Haile Gebrselassie, over a wild incident at the Ethiopian’s hotel in his home country several weeks ago.

Gebrselassie said that the British star punched and kicked a husband and wife while Farah stayed at his hotel.

However, Farah’s coach insisted the four-time Olympic champion was acting in self-defence. A charge of theft was also laid.

Whatever, it’s a tacky set-to that’s unprecedented in international athletics. You see this nonsense in sports like boxing, but a stiff upper lip is one of the requirements of elite athletes.

That, and an inordinate supply of oxygen.

What the incident did was blow open the pretence that world athletics is a sea of calm when seething jealousies and petty behaviour are di rigueur.

Sportsmen are human. Of course they go off the deep end.

Just ask Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who clashed with Nedum Onuoha during a Major League Soccer game last weekend.

The combustible Swede threatened to “hurt” the former Manchester City defender, an act that infuriated Onuoha, who dismissed Ibrahimovic’s apologies.

“I like to feel alive,” said the hot-headed Swede by way of explanation.

Onuoha wasn’t buying it, but the MLS won’t mind.

The LA Galaxy star is a diva deluxe and fans adore him. He sells tickets.

Besides, what did they expect? L’Equipe once listed him and Ronaldo as the two most arrogant players in the world. He trades in insult and abuse.

As the expression goes, you pays your money and you takes your choice.

If there was a certain je ne sais quoi, or racy appeal, about these episodes, trust a South African to produce a more prosaic offering.

According to the Daily Sun, Black Leopards keeper King Ndlovu was in no mood for niceties when he blasted his coach, Dylan Kerr, last weekend.

“PLAYER TELLS COACH TO ‘F** K OFF,” roared The Daily Sun in characteristic style.

If Kerr appears dangerously close to losing the change room, he has problems elsewhere, with the paper reporting, too, that “ladies are apparently parading in hotel rooms”.

It all sounds scandalously chaotic, a throwback to the days before team minders, media training, social media and the all-seeing eye of pesky reporters.

I don’t know if Ndlovu did swear at Kerr, or even if the club is verging on calamity, but I do know that Black Leopards are anything but dull.

I may even watch the next time they play.

@ClintonV


Sunday Tribune

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