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Why Does Football Have Such A Bad Reputation Within Society?

Friday 20th January 2012

Footballers get paid too much, they're irresponsible with their money, they don't do enough to earn their wages, they're terrible role models, they're always caught committing adultery and never manage to fulfill the weight of expectation placed on them at major tournaments.



I wholeheartedly disagree. Unfortunately, since the inception of the Premier League, footballer's price tags have rocketed, as well as their wages, in conjunction with lucrative television deals around the world, resulting in many becoming scapegoats for abuse in the media because of their celebrity status and well-publicised wealth. Why is this?

There are plenty of professional sports men and women that earn ridiculous amounts of money, football is just one of these sports. For instance, there is not the same stigma about the earnings of Golfers, Tennis players or Formula 1 drivers. In fact, there are only six professional footballers in the highest paid thirty athletes of 2011, of those six, just one plays in the English Premier League. (http://www.therichest.org/sports/forbes-highest-paid-athletes/)
Professional Golf is even measured by the amount of money earnt by a player within the season. The 2012 PGA (Professional Golfer's Association) Money List is led by Englishman Luke Donald, earning $8,905,258 in prize money alone. (http://www.upi.com/Sports/Golf-Money-List/) Formula 1, meanwhile, features so called ‘Pay Drivers', who are signed, in part, because of the adequate financial backing that they bring to the team. William's driver, Venezuelan, Pastor Maldonado, for example, was accompanied to the team by a hefty sponsorship deal from Venezuela's national oil company.

So do people think that footballers just don't do enough ‘work' to warrant their massive paychecks? Those who play in the top five leagues in Europe (England, Spain, Italy, Germany, France) have worked extremely hard at nurturing natural ability and twinning this with a desire to perform at the highest possible level. Setting aside commitments to friends and family from a very early age, to join academies around the country. If they manage to make it into the first team of a Premier League club, as only a minority do, then it becomes just as hard to hold down a place in the team, as it was to earn one in the first place. The recent transfer of Darron Gibson, 24, to Everton from Manchester United, shows that players who are not quite at the required level are forced to move on. One player who is the epitome of the modern day athlete, let alone footballer, is Real Madrid's Portuguese star, Cristiano Ronaldo. He is player who is undoubtedly one of the best players in the world, constantly striving to better himself through rigorous exercising and hours of practice. (Cristiano Ronaldo Tested To The Limit (Full Documentary - YouTube) The point that I am making is that footballers, on the whole, work extremely hard to be as good as they are and that it is only through such dedication that they can succeed.
One reason that there is a negative portrayal of footballers in the media is perhaps class related. Anybody can play football, it is not an expensive sport to take up, and there are no specific conditions in which to start playing, all you need is a ball. Unlike sports previously mentioned (Golf, Formula 1, Tennis) you do not need to come from a wealthy background to participate. This is not to say that all golfers, tennis players or Formula 1 drivers are from a wealthy background, only that it is difficult to compete in those sports without money or a sponsor from an early age.

Once the footballers have made it at the highest level, in the Premier League for example, they then have to start dealing with the enormous amount of pressure placed on them by coaches, fans and sponsors. Playing for Manchester United, for instance, a player can expect to play in front of 80,000 fans each week, all willing them to be on top of their game and performing to the highest of their ability. Millions of fans around the world rely on these players to provide them with happiness by winning.

To address the issue of money once again, it is worth noting that it is the minority of professional footballers who are paid such extortionate amounts of money. It is the same as in all professions; only the very best get paid the most. It is only a small percentage of footballers that will never have to work again after their career is over. The length of a player's career is also worth highlighting; it is rare for a player to play top-level football, earning high wages, for more than fifteen years. Once their career is over they must then find another way of earning a living, if it is needed, without qualifications such as a university degree.

Lastly, football is something that unites fans, players and communities, yet often receives such bad press. By supporting a club you feel part of something, pride in your team for winning, despair at losses and wonder at the skills of the players. All romantic ideals aside, football plays a key part in society, acting as a centre for development, employment and enjoyment within its community. As well as this, English football, in particular, is leading the way in terms of tackling prejudice within sport, as the recent banning of Liverpool striker, Luis Suarez proves.

Hopefully football can continue to be loved by millions around the world, going on to enhance its reputation as a valuable addition to communities.
Jacob Rafferty

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