It is no surprise to any football fan when some footballer’s antics, whether on or off the pitch, start to have an impact on the game itself. English Premier League games are all too often affected as much by what happens on the pitch as they are by what goes on off the pitch.
On the tip of every Premier League fan’s tongue is the recent controversy involving Chelsea defender – and sometimes captain – John Terry, and Queens Park Rangers’ Anton Ferdinand. During a Premier League match, Terry was accused of a certain inexcusable racial slur directed at Ferdinand. This has had severe ripple effects on not only Chelsea, but English football in general.
Many English Premier League predictions are taking situations like these into account, as a player’s mental and emotional condition off the pitch often has ramifications for their physical performance on the pitch.
The controversy does not end there, however. Since the threats and subsequent investigations, Ferdinand has been sent death threats, or, as the police are calling them: “malicious communications”. The outcome of the investigation is yet to be decided, but an air of spite, racial tension and aggression lingers on.
In other recent controversial news, Tevez has been spotted arriving home in Argentina without the permission of his club, Manchester City, effectively failing to show up for a club training session. This news arrives not too long after Tevez famously ‘refused’ to warm up for City when he was chosen as a substitute for the Manchester City – Bayern Munich Champions League game in September.
What exactly Tevez’s ultimate fate will be with Carlos Mancini’s team is still uncertain. He has been fined after being found guilty of five charges by in-club investigations, but where he will end up playing next season is still a mystery.
Mario Balotelli, Italian national and also a Manchester City player, is also no stranger to the limelight. His antics on and off the pitch have earned him a reputation as something of an erratic character. Famously struggling to put on a training bib earned him the moniker ‘Bibotelli’, and his latest exploits include arson charges (he set off fireworks in his own apartment, almost burning it down completely), and links with the Italian mafia!
Balotelli, on a trip to Naples in June, was spotted with a notorious local Mafia boss, who has since been arrested on charges of money laundering. Just this week he was at the Public Prosecutor’s office in Naples explaining himself, saying “I didn’t know who those people were, that day in Naples there were always many people around me”.
With so much controversy in the world of football at the moment, it is easy to forget the reasons we watch the beautiful game. Although these kinds of situations are likely to continue distracting us from the game itself, the 90 minutes between kickoff and fulltime will stay as entertaining and engaging as ever.
We should remember that footballers are human beings too, with their own flaws and follies. With so much frenzied media attention on them, it must be near impossible for them to keep a perfect public profile. So, as with the players, so with the spectators: Keep your eyes on the ball!