The life of a professional footballer isn’t really a difficult one. You wake up probably thanks to a call from your agent reminding you it’s time to get up, you get dressed, in the clothes your agent laid out for you the night before, then your agent arrives and takes you to training in your Ferrari or Range Rover while you sign copies of the best-selling autobiography he wrote for you.
At training you put a few hours in before finishing at around the same time most of us aren’t even half way through our work day. Then it’s off back to your ‘crib’ for a few hours of xbox or playstation before it’s time for your soup. You’re paid millions of pounds, adored by thousands each week for playing a game you probably love.
Despite all this though, many players struggle with the ‘pressures’ of being a modern day footballer they can’t help but get themselves into varying degrees of bother, be it cheating on their wives- often with one of the most tabloid worthy woman, or the latest ‘craze’ racism.
Whether you believe John Terry really did abuse Anton Ferdinand or otherwise, it’s not hard to see why Rio Ferdinand would be left feeling aggrieved. Rio must believe that his brother was telling the truth and was the victim of racial abuse by a man Ferdinand would arguably call a friend having spent many England games in defence together.
Then there’s Rio’s feelings towards Ashley Cole, a player he’s also spent the better part of ten years playing alongside in the England defence. Cole himself claimed he was a ‘friend of the Ferdinand family’ although the reaction of some of the said Ferdinands in court make that seem less than certain. Cole being a witness for the defence and more or less backing up John Terry’s claims that Anton Ferdinand said the term ‘black’ or at least ‘Bridge’ which is in direct contradiction to what Rio’s little brother claimed in court, must’nt have been what Rio wanted to see. He may feel Cole’s protecting his skipper at Anton’s expense, or at the very least making the younger Ferdinand’s version of events seem less likely and this has no doubt annoyed Rio.
Yesterday’s pantomine on twitter was not the best way for Rio to vent his frustration, no matter how angry he may feel towards Cole or anyone else. In case you’ve been that out of it on disco biscuits all weekend and your one of the seven people on the planet who doesn’t know what was said:
Not the worst insult ever levelled at a person granted, but let’s not pretend this isn’t an insult and let’s also not pretend it isn’t racially motivated. Ferdinand’s response was totally inappropriate. As a mixed race man growing up in a predominantly white area, with a white family the term ‘bounty’ ‘choc ice’ and ‘coconut’ have been levelled at me in the past by fellow non-white people. It’s a quick way to get a reaction from someone in the heat of an argument, just as is say mentioning them shagging a team mates missus, or whatever.
Personally I’ve never been that bothered by it, as the idea that I may be “white on the inside” doesn’t even seem like an insult to me, it merely seems like an observation that could have an air of truth to it. After all my favourite band are the Smiths, nearly all my mates are white and I sound more like Ian Brown than Doctor Zip. I also find the very idea that a person can be ‘black or white’ on the inside ridiculous, if I dress like Fifty Cent and listen to Hip Hop while quoting Maya Angelou does that make me more ‘black’ on the inside? Despite my indifference to the somewhat puerile term, I can see why someone could be offended by it. After all regardless of how ‘black’ a person may be, all non-white people know what it’s like to be part of the minority, to suffer racial abuse because of the colour of your skin and to be treated differently by some people. It’s bad enough getting stick for not being white on the outside, let alone getting it for being white on the inside. It may be understandable between infantile youngsters arguing on the playground but do we really expect it to be condoned by former England football captains?
Regardless of how he felt, Rio Ferdinand should have known better. Yes, there’s the argument that no one knows how we’d react if someone shouted what Terry did at our little brother and one of our so-called ‘friends’ helped him get away with any punishment, but does that really excuse it?
Don’t be naive enough for one minute to think Rio didn’t fully understand what the term meant, or that his subsequent explanation of ‘its slang for being fake’ is anything other than tosh.
I’ve got no time for Ashley Cole, but at least he’s had the courtesy to diffuse the situation by issuing a statment via his lawyers which reads:
“Ashley Cole has been made aware of the discussion following comments appearing on Twitter and wishes to make it clear that he and Rio Ferdinand are good friends and Ashley has no intention of making any sort of complaint.
“Ashley appreciates that tweeting is so quick it often results in off-hand and stray comments.”
Cole may be one of the most dislikeable characters in football, but no one should have to issue statements declaring they’re not offended by something that should never have been said in the first place. It’s no good thinking “it’s only Ashley Cole.” What’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong, regardless of our feelings towards the individual.
Ferdinand has performed a minor miracle in actually giving Chelsea fans some form of moral high ground, although it’s laughable that the very same fans defending a man for using one of the most racially offensive terms imaginable are now reporting another to the police for laughing at the words “choc ice.”
Rio isn’t the first Red to get himself into bother for a tweet though, the uber intelligent Wayne Rooney had barely chosen his avatar before he was threatening children on twitter:
With Rio’s tweets now being discussed on all major news outlets and many commentators being less than complimentary about him you have to wonder what Sir Alex will make of it all and whether he will actually implement a Twitter ban on players.
Following the Rooney spat Sir Alex was asked about Twitter and replied:
I don’t understand it to be honest with you,’
‘I don’t know why anybody can be bothered with that kind of stuff. How do you find the time to do that? There are a million things you can do in your life without that.
‘Get yourself down to the library and read a book. Seriously. It is a waste of time.
‘It seems to have a certain momentum at the moment. Everyone seems to want to do it.’
‘It is responsibility. They are responsible for their actions,’
‘We as a club are looking at it because there can be issues attached to it. And we don’t want that.’
When one reporter suggested Twitter helped bring players closer to supporters the manager replied:
‘It would be better if they did it on the pitch.’
I’m beginning to agree with him and wouldn’t be surprised if all this latest bad publicity for both Ferdinand and in turn Manchester United, causes the manager to act.