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Is The Lack Of Discipline Amongst Football Players A Real Cause For Concern?

Monday 27th June 2011
Newcastle's Joey Barton is notorious for his off the

field issues

The British media seems to be running more stories relating to footballers being in trouble and breaching club rules. This season alone has seen striker Craig Bellamy receive a caution for an assault which took place at the start of the year. Another incident involved England defender Ashley Cole, after he accidentally shot a man with an air rifle at the Chelsea training ground. Is it really a growing trend among players or is it just a small minority who break the club rules?

Young aspiring footballers often try to impersonate their childhood heroes - the likes of England star Steven Gerrard. But what happens when someone's hero is, for example, Joey Barton? Young children see the current players as role models and want to follow in their footsteps. Yet Barton has been in trouble countless times and has even assaulted a former team-mate - Ousmane Dabo.

Joey Barton's former team-mate Ousmane Dabo after the


What kind of example is this sort of behaviour setting for the younger generation of football talent? Footballers should have a moral obligation to be professional about how they live their lives. Newcastle United Supporters' Club editor Dave Greaves said: “At present, Joey has been an inspirational character, leading from the front and scoring some vital goals. Yes, in the past he did have his moments, but {Newcastle manager Alan} Pardew has curbed his attitude.” So much for fans wanting their players to represent their clubs in a good manner . Footballers have tried to combat press intrusion by getting a High Court super injunction. John Terry tried getting an injunction against the papers because of an alleged affair with an ex girlfriend of Wayne Bridge. This failed and the affair was made public and Terry was stripped of his England captaincy.

Bridge snubbed Terry's handshake when the pair met at

the bridge

Another issue raised in this debate is continual breaks of the club rules by the same player. Should their contract be terminated, thus providing a sufficient deterrent to stop players breaking the rules? A Chelsea fanzine responded to the Ashley Cole shooting saga by saying: “Why was there an air rifle at the training ground? And secondly, why was Ashley holding the gun and pointing it at people? It's just wrong . The team is trying to push on in the Premier League, we're still in the Champions League.”

Footballers haven't just started behaving badly in recent times. The lack of professionalism can be traced back to the 1970's. One incident regarding Alan Shearer in 1997 when the Newcastle players were on a night out in Dublin and it ended with Shearer and Keith Gillespie having a fight. This proves that lack of discipline isn't just a modern cult but has been happening for over 40 years.

When looking at the number of football players that have actually committed crimes, it's a small minority compared with the huge number of players in the game from the Premier League down to the lower leagues. Even when you consider the volume of storiesregarding footballers behaving badly, the percentage of problematic players is minute. Some people would argue that a footballer being in the media spotlight constantly puts pressure on them. One Cardiff City fan didn't seem bothered about Bluebirds striker Bellamy's off the field antics. Ryan Taylor, a Cardiff supporter, said: “As long as he performs on a Saturday for the Bluebirds I'm not bothered, it's on the field that really matters.” Another Cardiff fan seemed more concerned about the issue. Neil Parker added: “We have a lot of youngsters and if those players see Craig they may start to follow in his footsteps .
Jamie Barwick

Total articles: 5

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