The Cons Of Football To The 21st Century Footballer
By Alli Olusegun Moses
Football is evolving. It is fast moving from the crassness, primitiveness, low-patronage, deficiencies, bloody needless rivalries, crude medical care and nutrition, penury and what have we. This is unlike what obtained in years past where footballers had to make do with their n***d legs on the pitch. They were susceptible to career-wreaking injuries and malnourishment. Also, they had nothing to show for their commitment to what they were good at doing. Ask the likes of Pelé, Sócrates, Ferenc Puskas, George Best, Alfredo Di Stéfano, Johan Cruyff and Franz Beckenbauer. They experienced a lot when they were actively playing the round-leather game. They’d have amazing stories to tell!
Generally speaking, football not only improves concentration. In its globalised state, it makes an average modern day footballer — even without being a professional — a beneficiary of the brouhaha associated with it, especially if he’s English. It also provides him access to state-of-the-art facilities, limitless wealth acquired via advertisements, sign-on fees, image rights and popularity. We have had cases where footballers were much more popular than their countries and leaders of their countries. Matter-of-factly, where I am from, it is generally believed that football is one of the most lucrative professions one can do, aside from politics.
Nevertheless, it has not evolved without leaving a tinge of harm, few of which will be subsequently elucidated.
First, loyalty, a virtue whose currency generated lots of spenders in years past, is fast becoming a scarce commodity among footballers these days. It is now commonplace to see players leaving clubs in droves in search of greener pastures. They become rebellious to their employers and coaches alike and do not honour their contracts. Take, for example, what currently transpires between Paris Saint Germain (PSG) and Adrien Rabiot. Also consider the likes of Mathieu Flamini, Aleksandr Hleb, Luis Suarez, Mario Göetze and Fernando Torres. This not only shows their disrespect to fans of their respective clubs but also confirms the claims that they are soulless mercenaries. This category of people negates the belief Giggses, the Scholeses, the Gerrards, the Adamses and the Terrys (pardon me if this is a solecism) of this world had when they were active footballers.
Second, the razzmatazz associated with football is increasingly dwindling players’ commitment to their profession. With football clubs investing heavily and spending so much on players, there is every chance that eight out of ten professional footballers in the 21st century spend their quality time buzzing around nightclubs, flaunting their hard-earned money, expensive drinks and six packs on social media. Nobody says they should not enjoy themselves, but the rate at which they do that is alarming, hence having adverse effects on their careers. For instance, for the most part of Ronaldinho’s, Robinho’s, Adriano’s and Gascoigne’s careers, they gave in to philandering and drinking and lost concentration. What is heard of them now is a shadow of a promising career each of them was touted to have. The latter two, Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi, are exceptional players who are embodiments of talent and hard work. These are players I barefacedly mention to satisfy whatever you have against my claim here.
Third, the sudden wealth and fame that football gives make the 21st-century footballer vulnerable to exploitation from family members, friends and (local) coaches, especially in Africa, where many believe football to be on a par with money ritual. Endless requests for money from family members may possibly drain a player’s pocket if care is not taken. Germane to this discourse is the experience Emmanuel Adebayor had with members of his family a couple of years ago. Also, there have been cases of coaches threatening to ruin their career using voodoo or ‘jazz’. This makes them panic, leaving them no option than to dance to the tune of these greedy people.
Given the foregoing, the 21st-century player has to be cognizant of the effects they have on their career and how they can wriggle their way out of the menace, provided they find themselves in them.