Sports

Money, parties, praise: Inside football’s lavish culture of excess

Chelsea: Now is the worst time to take over the club, says Pat Nevin

Football and its influence on the British public at large has been eternally debated, the Beautiful Game and excess go hand in hand like Pep Guardiola and trophies.

Now, the sport’s relationship with the controversy will once again be in the public eye, when the disputed World Cup 2022 in Qatar begins, accompanied by a soundtrack of complaints from human rights activists and LGBTQ+ supporters.

Demands that the tournament, which was shockingly awarded to the Middle Eastern nation in 2010, be moved or scrapped entirely have grown as the tournament’s opening match approaches, including from former Manchester United striker Eric Cantona, who he called for a boycott of the tournament. Competition of 32 teams.

But in Britain, the very influence of soccer on society may be questioned, as several high-profile players are in trouble with the law. So is Britain’s most popular (and lucrative) sport in danger of losing its reputation?

“When people keep telling you how fabulous you are, it’s easy to start believing it.” That is the verdict of former Professional Football Association (PFA) chairman and Chelsea Football Club legend Pat Nevin. And it’s easy to see why. For a sport so passionately admired by the British working classes and beyond for the better part of a century and a half. In half, their popularity has helped turn the teenage prodigies, with just a handful of appearances at their home clubs, into millionaires and, with it, celebrities in their own right.

Over the years, up-and-coming talent and established stars have found themselves embroiled in alleged criminal activity, being tried for their actions and spending time behind bars while waiting for their side of events to be heard. How, then, have their lives reached such damaging lows, when so much praise was lavished on them when they starred in the Premier League or a World Cup?

Nevin, who made 28 appearances for the Scotland national team during an illustrious career in the 1980s and 1990s, believes that this relentless culture within British football – a culture that can turn a player into a hero or villain in the blink of an eye of eyes, or in a beard from a publication: it is indicative of broader systemic problems in society.

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soccer player on the field

Inside football’s lavish culture of excess: ‘Chasing a drug that is poison’ (Image: GETTY)

Pat Nevin spoke to Express.co.uk

Pat Nevin is former president of the Professional Footballers Association (Image: GETTY)

Nevin told Express.co.uk regarding various alleged activities over the years: “That’s not acceptable by any means. The players have absolutely no one else to blame… However, I think that we must look at our broader culture.”

The broadcaster, a stalwart of BBC Radio 5 Live football coverage, mocked how footballers get “celebrity status… because they can kick a ball” and that ultimately, as a nation, “we need to educate our population from treating the stars differently.” .

the analyst, who released his autobiography The Accidental Footballer in 2021He said: “The celebrity culture that we have, I think about it a lot, and it’s not just football, I think it’s the media, it’s everybody, they need to question themselves, when they build [a player] en masse, and then they look shocked and amazed that people behave badly.

“Part of the reason is that we’ve built those people up as fast as they’ve accomplished anything. But they’ve also put it in the public’s mind that celebrity is everything. And maybe it’s no surprise that you do some really serious misbehavior.” “. when I develop this two-tier system [between celebrity and the public].”

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Soccer, often known as the Beautiful Game, experienced an incredible boom in popularity during the 1950s and 1960s, with England’s World Cup victory in 1966 and European Cup victories for Celtic. and Manchester United in 1967 and 1968 respectively, helping to cement his place with the public. eye, and placing the country on a global stage.

And with that position came money. lots.

After English soccer returned to the European fold after the 1990 World Cup, the Premier League was born, a watershed moment that many attribute as the period when the financial influence of those involved in the top tier of football competition England received the remarkable rewards for achieving in pitch.

With that intense level of interest, the players became the central figures in the drama, their lives outside the game being placed even more firmly under the microscope by those in love with the sport.

Jermaine's pennant in 2005

Jermaine Pennant arrives with bodyguards at Aylesbury Magistrates Court on March 1, 2005 (Image: GETTY)

Among the stars who have fallen out of favor with the excesses of the game is former Premier League player Jermaine Pennant, who, at the age of 22, and on the books of Arsenal Football Club, was sentenced to 90 days in prison. after pleading guilty to driving under the influence and driving while disqualified in 2005.

He recalled how he had become a “time bomb waiting to go off” when he spoke about that period of his life with Sky Sports four years ago. At that time he was playing on loan at Birmingham City. He recalled how “not playing” soccer “added to the damage” he was experiencing.

The former Liverpool attacker added: “I had no idea, I was in shock, I didn’t realize until after a week when I was in it, ‘My God, I’m in prison, what? What have I done with my life? What have I done with my career?'”

Gary Bloom, clinical sports psychotherapist and author of Keep your head in the gameHe described working with some of the game’s highest-profile stars in his career and helping them try to move away from the perceived murky world of soccer.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, Bloom said it was “easy for footballers to fall into that maladaptive way of thinking… when life dictates.” He recalled how some players had so much money that they “just billed their agent” regardless of what was purchased or how the money was used.

“Once you start to detach yourself from reality, where does that end?” Bloom said. “You need someone to say, ‘Wait. That’s not right. He can’t do that. That’s not fair.’ And if there’s no one in your life, who are you going to let in? Who’s going to do that?, we all need that.”

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Gary Bloom, sports psychotherapist

Gary Bloom, a sports psychotherapist also spoke about the culture of soccer. (Image: YOUTUBE)

He continued: “We all have to obey laws that are set by the police or whoever, or our parents or our loved ones or our partners and they say, ‘Sorry, you can’t do that.’ But if that has never been imposed on that individual, and no one has ever told him no, how is he going to know how to behave?

Bloom, who also worked as a football commentator before beginning his career helping footballers with their health, believed that many of the problems are caused by players who come from “less united homes”. This, in turn, saw those players “struggling to grasp fame and elements of it that they never knew existed… having fame on your shoulders at 17 or 18 can change anyone.”

But while Bloom argued that gamers were now, more than ever, in tune with their bodies and refusing to drink to excess the way their counterparts did 30 or 40 years ago, social media was the biggest struggle now facing those who they were in the spotlight.

“Cultures have changed dramatically,” he said. “But I think some of the tensions and tensions, I think, I would say have been made even worse because of social media. And remember, some of these players are looking for a certain following on social media so they can get certain deals with sportswear manufacturers, who want a certain number of followers on their Instagram or Twitter page.

“They’re chasing a drug that is ultimately poison. And those followers that they’re chasing, they’re just writing things on the internet about things and they’re going to get very angry.”

So has football allowed itself to reach a point where its players, hailed as aspirational figures that children around the world look up to and want to emulate, feel they are above the law? Nevin doesn’t think so.

The 59-year-old described his experience coming into football from “a different direction” to his contemporaries, “making a career and coming from a different kind of experience and attitude.” But when it came to his teammates, “they were just a very normal cross-section of young men.”

Nevin, who also played for Everton Football Club, continued: “They were never more than that. So you’ll have your good ones, your bad ones, you’ll have your selfish ones, you’ll have the whole cross section. And in between that, like In all parts of society, there will be people who will break the law or abuse their position.

“And the reason why it jumps higher in football is that if you have £150,000 a week it’s a little bit easier to abuse your position. That’s all. It’s not that they’re any different from everyone else. They’re not.” .

He added: “They’re a perfectly normal cross-section that’s been given this massive amount of cash, and told from a very young age, many of them, how fabulous they are. And when people keep telling you what fabulous that you are, it’s easy to start to believe it.



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