Wayne Rooney was handed a two-year driving ban and ordered to complete 100 hours of community service after pleading guilty to a drink driving charge.
Following the sentencing Wayne issued a public apology to all his fans for his lack of judgement in committing the offence, but how much does it really have to do with anyone beyond Wayne and his family.
My statement of apology – https://t.co/51WmrVDCev
— Wayne Rooney (@WayneRooney) September 18, 2017
In response to the initial incident, Ronald Koeman was upfront with his criticism of Rooney’s actions, stating his disappointment with the forward in front of the press. Koeman assured Rooney that he was walking a disciplinary tightrope, and any other discrepancies would result in him being dropped from the first team.
However, despite seeming to take such a strong stance, Rooney kept his place in the team for the next fixture against Tottenham. And following the insistence that the situation would be dealt with internally, whilst obviously, the sensible thing to do, any repercussions within the club remains unclear. Some may suggest that Rooney seemingly got off light and should indeed be dropped from the team because of his esteemed position as a role model to young children.
Well looking at a striking similar series of events on the other side of the city, last season, Roberto Firmino was also found guilty of drink driving offences. Jurgen Klopp by stark contrast moved to praise Firmino for his performances in training directly following the incident. When probed further by the press, Klopp was dismissive suggesting the incident was a police matter and in fact had nothing to with the player’s footballing ability. He suggested he would only answer footballing questions regarding Firmino as he felt it was not his place to comment on what his players do when not at the club.
And in truth the response really struck a cord, again there would have been fans calling for further ramifications but does he have a point? At the end of the day Rooney still played for Everton, so he certainly escaped any serious action in regards to his footballing career. By agreeing to condemn a player’s actions and not being seen to follow through with what many would consider a just response a manager can appear a little, flippant. If you’re not willing to drop a player for such behaviour, that can create a negative media storm, then maybe it is better to not comment.
You can’t be seen as criticising your own players too heavily in public as you risk losing the dressing room, players want a manager who can support them. But at the same time you can’t be seen to turn a blind eye to such controversy in the interest of the team as Liverpool themselves experience with the Luis Suarez racism saga. Unless maybe, a player’s personal life should not, in fact, be bought into consideration when selecting the team sheet, and decisions should be made on entirely footballing reasons.
Glad Rooney got two years driving ban . Too many famous people get off with things these days just cause they have money #MUFC
— Gemma (@gemma_is_a_red) September 18, 2017
The key word to take away here is that ‘role model’; the FA has worked tirelessly over the past two decades to make football a more family-friendly sport. Family areas are now a permanent fixture up and down the country and with it comes a lot more young fans. But how much are footballers really expected to be role models and are we, in fact, confusing it with a more accurate term ‘public figures’.
Because that is what they are, public figures, and under the intensity of the media microscope, any controversy is bound to whip up a frenzy. That is the honest truth, so is it fair to consider them role models, when they don’t choose which kids look up to them?
They have no direct responsibility, other than what is deemed appropriate by society, to act in any certain way. It is easy to forget that they are human after all and like all of us they are prone to a blunder or two in their lifetime. You don’t need to condone their behaviour and in cases such as this one, you probably wouldn’t be guilty of it either but that should not affect the man’s livelihood.
A fitting song for Rooney's return tomorrow ??
— MUFC Songs & Chants™ (@MufcSongs) September 16, 2017
If you or I went out and committed a similar offence, I’m sure we wouldn’t expect to be fired or suspended from our jobs, nor would we expect it for a colleague. There may be some exceptions to the rules depending on certain company policies but the vast majority of us wouldn’t receive any adverse treatment in our professional lives.
Even in other celebrity mediums, you wouldn’t expect the same stringent treatment. I’m sure Pete Doherty fans wouldn’t be demanding he be pulled from a lineup for being drunk and disorderly. As many a dad will tell you about the good old days it is not even an expectation that would stretch so far back into the football history books.
George Best an idol for many a young child in his day once said ‘I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I just squandered’. While a great talent, I’m sure he was not a man many parents today would consider a role model, but his personal problems rarely conflicted with his footballing career.
So when did we get so uptight about footballers behaviour, particularly in their youth; why do people assume today that it is their business and that footballers face retribution. Aside from affecting their fitness, which again is a matter for the club or breaking serious laws like the incidents involving Ched Evans and Adam Johnson, players should really not be at the want of the fans over issues in their personal life.
Again, I’m not condoning what Rooney did and we don’t have to, but maybe we could all take a leaf out of Jurgen Klopp’s book and let the justice system deal with the matter as it did yesterday.