If I was in charge of English football, I would radically overhaul the entire game. GONE would be the highly engineered footballs constructed from the same material that NASA astronauts wipe their bum with in space, and in their place, the trusty inflated pigs bladder would return. On match days the players would travel straight from the abattoir to the stadium, where they would step off the team coach, ashen-faced, with blood-spattered tracksuits and pigs entrails dangling from their Beats headphones. Adoring fans would quickly withdraw their autograph books and either avert their gaze in revulsion or vomit at their heroes’ supremely talented feet. A humbling experience indeed.
Sky Sports would also be forced to introduce a red button option for the TV audience watching at home, which would enable bored viewers to substitute the pigs bladder match ball for, say, a hand grenade. And instead of ‘parking the bus’ against top quality opposition, players would be instructed to park their Bentley Continentals and Lamborghini Gallardos.
And GONE would be the football shirts made with ‘breathable fabric’, which no doubt sigh with orgasmic pleasure each time they’re stretched over the players’ muscular torsos. Instead, footballers would be forced to play the whole game in their post-match designer threads. The repellent stench of sweat and pigs bladder would then hang heavily over the VIP areas of exclusive bars and clubs, which would be so overwhelming, women would rather plunge headlong into a blooming ‘corpse flower’ than venture beyond the red velvet rope to join them. Footballers would be left with nothing to do but quaff champagne, compare expensive watches and pick flecks of mud from each other’s matted hair like grooming apes.
Footballers also wouldn’t be able to gain entry to premier nightspots unless they wore augmented reality beer goggles, with the power to cloak attractive women behind a vision of Eric Pickles spilling out of a négligée. The goggles would eventually make going out after matches a deeply traumatic experience. Any players refusing to wear the goggles would risk having their contracts terminated.
This tough approach could clean up football once and for all, eradicating sex scandals and deflating even planet-sized egos. We should give it a whirl!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big football fan. I love to watch football. But the recent conviction and imprisonment of Sheffield United’s Ched Evans – for raping a 19-year-old woman at a Premier Inn Hotel in May last year – has once again shone a blinding stadium spotlight on the debauched behaviour of some players.
In 2007, a ‘roasting’ sex tape emerged featuring Manchester City’s Micah Richards and one of his friends – also a Premier League footballer. If you were to go off the screen grabs of their faces alone you would be forgiven for thinking that Richards had just discovered that he could ejaculate £50 notes. The story went public after the two footballers circulated the sex clip around their group of friends because they thought it was “hilarious”. But unless the rhythmic slapping of Micah Richards’ balls – sounding like a disapproving slow hand-clap by the women of the WI – is something that his social circle delights in, it’s not a video that anyone could possibly find “hilarious”. The video was circulated simply because it was a result. It was a win.
When these players were starry-eyed kids emulating the skills of their footballing heroes down at the local park, did they dream of playing professionally for their boyhood club? Or did they dream that, one day, they would be able to gurn into a mobile phone while filming themselves ‘roasting’ a female fan in a spacious disabled toilet? What the hell happens to these talented, ambitious sportsmen that turns them into arrogant, self-aggrandising, amoral and, some might say, dangerous fuckheads?
When the aforementioned Ched Evans was arrested, he boasted to police that he and his friend “could have had any girl” they wanted in the nightclub they had visited. He told them: “We were drinking, having fun there. It’s not uncommon we pick up girls. Clayton [McDonald] is an attractive guy. We are footballers, that’s how it is. Footballers are rich, they have got money, that’s what the girls like.”
Unusually for two obscenely rich and attractive men, packing the kind of pheromonal power that can apparently render an entire nightclub of women utterly helpless, they decided to have sex with the one woman who was barely conscious. Evans’ brother and another friend, Jack Higgins, who clearly don’t have the same magic touch with women, had to make do with watching events unfold through a window, with Higgins filming the action on his mobile phone. I imagine they watched and sniggered like a couple of village idiots gawping through a car window at some Knowsley Safari Park baboons trying to hump a car aerial. Despicable.
Ched Evans’ incarceration for rape has since led to the creation of a #justiceforched Twitter campaign; the naming and subsequent harassment of his victim online (leading to the arrests of three men); and a misguided outpouring of support from some Sheffield United fans who don’t seem to see what all the fuss is about. One fan even showed his support for Evans by shaving “CHED” into the back of his head (with the same kind of results you’d expect if you asked Stevie Wonder to shave the name of your favourite convicted rapist into the back of your head). A group of fans were even planning to orchestrate two rounds of supportive applause at Sheffield United’s game last Saturday – in the ninth and 35th minutes of the game in homage to Evans’ old shirt number and the amount of goals he’s scored this season – but thankfully nothing of any significance materialised.
For the kids playing football right now in the parks and backstreets of England, with jumpers for goalposts, boundless amounts of energy and nothing but football on their minds, I hope the behaviour of their footballing heroes improves off the pitch. I am, of course, more than happy to implement my sweeping changes to English football to bring about the positive shift we need. But whether they like it or not, footballers need to remember that they’re role models…and it’s not the last days of Rome.