Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Carlos Tevez: Try walking a mile in these boots

Today marks the one-week anniversary of Carlos Tevez refusing to do his job and subsequently being suspended for at least a fortnight. The Argentine striker, named among the Manchester City substitutes for their Champions League trip to Bayern Munich, was asked to warm up by manager Roberto Mancini, but decided he'd rather not come off the bench. The incident made headlines around the world and not only will it feature prominently in the end-of-year sporting reviews, but will also prove to be a landmark case in the history of football, a sport which has seen 'player power' surge in recent years.

To be honest, I still can't get my head around Tevez's actions. Blessed with outrageous natural talent which has brought him almost immeasurable wealth and global recognition, he's not satisfied with his lot in life. Football is a profession so many youngsters dream about, and one which still inflames the passions of adults involved much further down the league structure. If someone could only provide Tevez with a slight sense of perspective, maybe his outlook could be different, I don't know.

For example, so many players and coaches I've spoken to in the non-league game find themselves constantly balancing work commitments with a football career which is, in black and white terms, a demanding hobby. Teachers, labourers, shopkeepers and postmen all give up their Saturdays and midweek evenings to train and play for relatively menial sums of money, because they love being involved in a game which provides such rich entertainment. It surprises me more players don't pull out of Tuesday night fixtures, given the travelling hours required even in the Ryman League and Kent League. But that's the high priority they place on their football. One manager I spoke to regularly works for the Kent Fire & Rescue Service and often I would interview him just as he was finishing a night shift. He was always happy to talk me through the events of the previous Saturday's game, and his commitment to the football club was absolute. Another Kent-based player has to fit football around his unsociable shifts as a policeman, but is similarly dedicated to making training sessions and travelling to games. Mr Tevez, if only you'd walk for a mile in the shoes of these gents, you'd get an inkling as to why the UK football public, not just the supporters of the two Manchester clubs, now hold you in such low regard.

In other news...

The European Court of Justice has ruled in favour of Portsmouth landlady Karen Murphy using a Greek decoder to screen Premier League games live in her pub, bypassing controls over match screening. Immediate reaction has seen Murphy congratulated for 'taking on the Premier League and Sky Sports' and winning, but I'm not sure the ruling is good news for lower league football clubs. If more pubs can now show live football at 3pm on a Saturday (albeit with foreign commentary), that's more people tempted away from supporting their local teams. Midweek clashes with televised Champions League fixtures already drag down attendances at non-league clubs and this will only hurt them more. Therefore, the sense that David has beaten Goliath in this latest courtroom wrangle may be some way off the mark. We haven't heard the last of this one.

And finally...

While driving to visit my brother in Broadstairs earlier this week, I passed a snow plough heading in the opposite direction. The temperature outside was pushing 25C.

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