How the M Flighty Have Fallen
Source: Unsplash
Truth Well Told (TWT)

How the M Flighty Have Fallen

"The problem is the hero status afforded to soccer players these days – the hype, the high salaries, the aura of glamour, the star status."

By Stuart White


I must confess that up to a couple of days ago, I had never heard of Harry MaGuire. In fact, when I began this article, having only been introduced to him on news reports I assumed his surname was actually the more common McGuire! What can I tell you? I’m not a football fan and don’t follow the sport so even though of course I’ve heard of his team – Manchester United – I was unaware of his existence on the planet, much less that he was the team captain.

That of course has now changed. The footballer hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons this week, not for his work on the field but the fact that he was arrested at a Greek holiday resort for being involved in a public fracas, punching a local policeman and then attempting to bribe the arresting officers. He also reportedly asked them ‘Do you know who I am?’ Well, I certainly didn’t!

For any of you who not completely au fait with the story, this is a précis

The Manchester United defender was taken into custody along with two friends for being verbally abusive and violent to police officers following a dispute with other British tourists outside a bar in Mykonos in the early hours of last Friday morning.

Police spokesman Petros Vassilakiss claimed that at least two policemen were "thrown down" after one of the men aimed a swing. They are then said to have been punched and kicked, suffering facial injuries as a result. Maguire is alleged to have hit an officer before making an attempt to bribe them. The three men were eventually detained and taken to the police station, where they were questioned and kept overnight. In court the following day Maguire was handed a 21-month suspended sentence against which he immediately filed an appeal.

Yannis Paradeisis, a lawyer assisting with the prosecution, told The Associated Press that he was disappointed by Maguire’s behaviour. Paradeisis added: “The whole thing could have ended with an apology.

In addition to captaining Man U, Maguire, who is the world’s most expensive defender, also plays for England’s national team, in light of the bad publicity England manager Gareth Southgate withdrew Maguire from the squad for the Nations League matches against Iceland and Denmark next month after the verdict was announced, having initially selected him.

“I have made this decision in the best interests of all parties and with consideration of the impact on our preparations for next week,” Southgate said.

So those are the facts of the case, but the public debate ranged far and wide in its wake. First off, many pundits were asking why someone who earns around £160,000 (approx P2.4m) a week – yes, you did read that right! – would choose to holiday in a cheap resort crowded with thousands of low-wage earners on a budget break. Why indeed? He could easily afford to hire a private island or even a private yacht where he could party ‘till he was paralytic and not a soul would see or hear of his exploits.

Secondly, as the saying goes, ‘With great power comes great responsibility’. As captain of arguably the planet’s most famous football squad as well as playing for his country, Mr. Maguire is a public figure and perhaps ought to be a role model for young fans of the sport. So, mindful of his public image and the moral responsibility that goes with it, it wasn’t such a smart move to drink himself half to oblivion in a mass-market tourist resort and then, presumably well under the influence and not in total control of his faculties and physique, to end up in an unseemly brawl, deck a couple of boys in blue and then try to bribe and bully his way out of the situation?

Back on Planet Earth, let us consider for a moment his 7-figure salary. I don’t care how good he clearly is at kicking a ball around a field, no argument you could come up with would justify to me his being able to pocket nearly 2 ½ million pula a week – what on earth do you do with that sort of money? No wonder its recipients walk around believing they are above laws made for mere mortals which can’t possibly apply to soccer gods and also that their fat bank balances will buy them out of any amount of trouble and save them in any and all situations.

Of course, in criminal terms this whole incident is nothing new, nor would it even have been newsworthy, had it not been for the fame and fortune of the main protagonist.. Young dudes on holiday drinking too much and ending up involved in a boozy brawl. And whilst bopping a bobby wasn’t the smartest thing to do when the police were called, let’s face it, footballers aren’t picked for their high IQs so no big surprise there. In fact, when compared to the actions and subsequent fate of another prominent sportsman, that of blade runner Oscar Pistorius, where an innocent victim lost her life, this is small beer, okay, quite a lot of small beers and possibly a few bottles of ouzo as well.

The problem is the hero status afforded to soccer players these days – the hype, the high salaries, the aura of glamour, the star status. Their salaries are in no way commensurate with what they do and their contribution to society. Playing a sport is a healthy occupation but being paid more than most of the world’s major leaders combined is far from a healthy situation.

It’s enough to make anyone see red. So there, I do know one thing about Manchester United, after all!

The Hotwire XChange