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Article from Hal Cohen at The Thoughts of Hal Cohen: Should we expect our footballers to have principles?

 

Should we expect our footballers to have principles?

 

Barney Ronay's excellent article in The Guardian last weekend suggested that football today is essentially "pure evil", calling out two recent scenarios – allegations of FIFA corruption and the recent propaganda match held by Chechnyan President, Ramzan Kadyrov. The match featured a team comprising a variety of ex-pros, including Liverpool stars Robbie Fowler and Steve McManaman, pitched against a Chechen team captained by the President himself.

 

There is no concrete information on appearance fees, although some reports suggest Diego Maradona received 1 million Euros for the 40 minute match, with other players receiving between 20,000 and 50,000 Euros. After the game, the players were transferred by private jet to a flash party in Geneva, all paid for by secretive Chechnyan billionaire, Bulat Chagaev.

 

To give some background on President Kadyrov, he's seen internationally as a violent warlord whose rule has been subject to numerous media and governmental allegations of human rights abuses. Amongst other things, these allegations include the kidnap, torture, and murder of hundreds of people, inside and outside Chechnya. Kadyrov has also restricted the rights of women, forcibly removed political opponents and taken control of the country’s media.

 

I posed a question directly to Robbie Fowler (@Robbie9Fowler) on Twitter about his participation in the game, and he replied indicating that he "went over there to play football with Diego... If I was into politics I wouldn't of become a footballer.... End of". Tony Halpin in The Times also quotes Steve McManaman justifying the players' participation stating "There's many countries with various political problems. We are not here politically ... it's not a piece of propaganda for us."

 

But are these excuses valid? Do you have to be "into politics" (whatever that means) to judge if its wise to play in such a match? Is it a valid excuse to ignore an unsavoury reality on the basis one just wishes to play football?

 

In the past, it may have been possible for a player to be unaware of the actions of a brutal regime they associated with. However, this cannot as easily be claimed today with the Internet just a couple of clicks away. It should be expected that players asked to make a somewhat out of the way trip to Chechnya may want to know a little about the place before they visit.

 

The same increase in awareness and visibility applies to the actions of our favourite footballers. We often know what our players are doing outside regular football, especially those who choose to interact with fans and journalists on Twitter and elsewhere.

 

A lot has been said about footballers acting as role models on the pitch. Is it perhaps about time for us to expect them to be role models off it too? Do players have a moral responsibility to do the 'right' thing is the eyes of society? After all, we, the football fans, essentially funded their stardom which enabled them to be asked to play in Chechnya in the first place.

 

If we give players the benefit of the doubt, then what about their advisers? Agents weigh up the benefits of any deal for their client, perhaps including a simple ethical assessment. It’s probably laughable to assume such assessments are regularly carried out, but agents must frequently consider the impact of a player's actions on their public reputation.

 

Although he faced limited criticism, Fowler cannot have enjoyed being questioned by journalists about his participation in the Chechen match. Will he now return any money received and express regret at his involvement, realising that he was participating in a propaganda exercise to re-enforce support for brutal regime? Or is it simply too naïve to expect our footballers to have principles, to reject big one off pay days or chances to play with Diego Maradona because the circumstances are simply wrong?

 

At present, the latter seems much more likely. The response to the game in Chechnya has been limited, aside for a few excellent newspaper articles and a handful of questions on Twitter. Unless we the football consuming public actually care, then why should the footballers?

 

I'd like to give Robbie & Steve Mc the benefit of the doubt on this but would feel a lot happier if they donate their fees to charity

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Ideally I'd prefer them not to be running around a field with a mass murderer, letting him score a goal for his own ego & entertainment. But yeah, if they did it for cash then I'd feel happier if that cash went to a decent cause

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Ideally I'd prefer them not to be running around a field with a mass murderer, letting him score a goal for his own ego & entertainment. But yeah, if they did it for cash then I'd feel happier if that cash went to a decent cause

 

If you are going to stop sport involving countries with leaders who are mass murderers and do torture and stuff sport will get real small, real quick.

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If you are going to stop sport involving countries with leaders who are mass murderers and do torture and stuff sport will get real small, real quick.

 

Hardly a sporting event. It was an exhibition match designed to celebrate Kadyrov.

 

And I don't think it's too much to expect decent guys like Robbie Fowler not to get involved in this type of thing

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I can't believe anyone is even trying to defend this. It is indefensible. Nothing Maradona does surprises me because he consorts regularly with this kind of scumbag, but Fowler and McManaman just went down about 50 rungs in my estimation.

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He didn't go just to play football, he got paid for it. That's fair enough, I'd do the same if I was offered the chance and damn the moral ambiguities but, whatever way you spin it, it does Robbie's reputation no good. Won't make much difference to McManaman's image though.

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We should all be partaking in self flagellation. Britain has the worse human rights histories of any country, they started the slave trade etc. Pot and Kettle. Is very easy to forget your past especially if its a jaded one.

 

I was listening to a piece on the radio about Croke park and bloody sunday 1920 which i had no idea about, when the British military forces shot and murdered 14, two of them were small boys one perched on a wall and another in a tree watching the game. Can you imagine if it happened a a football match. tragic.

 

Robbie and Macca should have known better but i can understand the lure of palying with Maradona.

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We should all be partaking in self flagellation. Britain has the worse human rights histories of any country, they started the slave trade etc. Pot and Kettle. Is very easy to forget your past especially if its a jaded one.

 

I was listening to a piece on the radio about Croke park and bloody sunday 1920 which i had no idea about, when the British military forces shot and murdered 14, two of them were small boys one perched on a wall and another in a tree watching the game. Can you imagine if it happened a a football match. tragic.

 

Robbie and Macca should have known better but i can understand the lure of palying with Maradona.

 

The slave trade is evident in ancient history, and especially in the bible. But the Christians make claims about morality that are also at odds with their history. People are hypocrites, basically.

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Yeah, we see the armed forces line up at FA cup matches and Internationals our brave boys help for heroes on Afganistan fighting a poverty stricken nation using sophisticated technology with billions of pounds behind them for no moral reason and used for propaganda purposes to elicit our sympathies and keep people unfocused on the real victims, the 3rd world civilians with no help for heroes or pay and benefits and support being bombed and maimed in the hundreds of thousands by our high tech weaponry in the name of resources and power.

 

If anything Fowler and Macca go up in my estimation, at least when they are being used for propaganda they take an even hand about it all and pick no sides.

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In a society whose rulers & politicians seem to have very few moral values, I can't understand why footballers are seemingly the only group of people expected to be role models.

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I like the way the press are picking Robbie and Macca out when loads of players played

 

Figo was there too.

 

Craig David sung at half time.

 

Pure evil? Fuck off.

 

I didn't realise Craaaaaig Daaaaaaavid was there. Suddenly, this has taken a turn towards the sinister.

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The slave trade is evident in ancient history, and especially in the bible. But the Christians make claims about morality that are also at odds with their history. People are hypocrites, basically.

 

 

thats true. i should have been more specific in that i meant the introduction of west african slaves to the americas.

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I see Pope Francis has said Hell doesn't exist in an interview in La Republica. The worst that will happen if you fail to repent is that you'll disappear.

 

 

 

PARTY! PARTY! PARTY!

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I see Pope Francis has said Hell doesn't exist in an interview in La Republica. The worst that will happen if you fail to repent is that you'll disappear.

 

 

 

PARTY! PARTY! PARTY!

 

 

Sturridge has clearly failed to repent

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