Football is once again in today’s headlines and it appears that that bastion of moral guidance, the FA, is being looked to once again, to provide a pro-active solution to the latest potentially endemic problem in football. A player has been allegedly red carded for allegedly kicking or kicking at an alleged ball boy who was allegedly tardy in releasing the football. Apparently the player in question and the ball boy in question have shaken hands and no police action will be taken. It is expected that the player may well receive punishment from his sport’s governing body. Will this incident fuel a ‘debate’ on issues like ‘Is violence an endemic-problem in footballers?’ or ‘do footballers earn too much money and consequently act irresponsibly?’ or ‘As a high profile footballer is he not expected to act as a better role model?’ Inevitably the debaters will demand that the FA act to rein in this errant individual and reform/revise/review its disciplinary procedures, the process by which young players are recruited and nursed by their clubs and generally make the world a better place by putting in counter-violence programs and guidelines. The FA will have to add a ‘violence’ element to it ‘Kick it Out’ campaign!
Let us imagine that this weekend in a youth football match one of the players kicked out at an official or spectator. Surely blame would not only be laid at the door of the highly paid player but there would be howls demanding action from the footballing authorities, who seem to be the only authority anyone expects to act against wrongful behaviour. Players must set a better example or face the consequences. Yes, they are often under tremendous pressure but they must learn to cope with it and act appropriately.
Let us imagine another scenario: over the next few days an under pressure school teacher kicks out at an uncooperative child. Is it at all feasible that some editorial would suggest that this teacher has been influenced by what he may have seen on television? The errant footballer might expect a ban of several games coupled with a monetary fine large for most of us but nothing more than an irritation for him. This teacher would be barred from the teaching profession or working with young people for ever. He would be ruined and disgraced. Not much consideration would be given to either the pressure of the situation in which the teacher works or the degree of provocation.
Now I am not suggesting that teachers should ever get away with violence towards pupils. It is not acceptable behaviour. Yet no one would possibly suggest that the teacher is merely emulating what he sees his well-paid heroes do on live television. The FA would not be blamed for failing in its duty to ensure its role model are better role models to other role models. Neither should we examine if the teachers role models might just be sadistic Victorian masters from literature.
Violence, or racism or anything else, is not the province of the sporting authorities. These are problems that affect all human beings. Each one of us should examine his own moral framework to see how he could behave better. None of will become better by demanding that the footballing authorities take stronger stands on any issues. That being said the football and other authorities should do all they can to ensure better behaviour.
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