Football isn’t a sport, it’s an entertainment business. Sport is nothing more than diversion; recreation; a pleasant pastime. It’s what we, as a species, perform in exchange for the extinction of physically fighting for our survival. We still need a physical nature to our lives. We call it sport because it isn’t severe.
Professional football on the other hand, is. Few will argue that it still holds true to the past time enjoyed by millions. But they’re wrong. Much like the entertainment industry; millions of pounds are invested in to the trade each year to the demand of results, profits and progress. If a footballer isn’t doing his job, he’s useless. Not just in the sense of any unproductive employee, for a footballer, the rules are different; you’re scoring goals, winning games and making money or you’re ineffective, recoiling and dead.
When an error in the system occurs, it is always dealt with. The ‘sport’ has evolved in tangent with its capitalistic roots to maintain that an act against the set up will always disembody itself. Any player who goes against the tide will eventually fail. Out of form? Sell him and buy someone better. Too old? Buy someone younger Let them dissolve and fall to the bottom of the pool. If sport’s initial creation was to compare, trade and sell a man as a commodity it would have been considered immoral, racist and depriving a man of his very human nature. Fortunately it wasn’t. Unfortunately that’s what it’s become.
Yet there are always exceptions to a rule. Deviations to a decree. Mistakes in the print. Carlos Tevez was exactly that. A Twenty Eight years old man, of sound mind and able body who had turned his back on the world of Football, and tainted the system.
The Manchester City striker fell out of love with his English club, and sport, late last year when a series of incidents highlighted the player’s unhappiness playing for the club. On the surface of it all, we assumed there was nothing but a pinch of playacting to this slice of theatrical cake and it was no more than a player vouching for a new contract. As the plot thickened, things became more severe.
After a number of vocal brawls with manager Roberto Mancini, coming to a head when the player apparently refused to come on in a match against Bayern Munich, Carlos Tevez was placed on ‘gardening leave’ and returned to South America with his family.
If a man had been persecuted unjustly by a corporation then it was the media and societies responsibility to bring such an organisation to justice. Yet we overlooked such a scenario and gazed past it at the continued allure of Premier League football, blinded by our jealousy and resentment to the money these men make. To the immoral Newspapers and corrupt average Joe, Carlos was evil. He couldn’t get away with this.
For a man who had always strived to point out that his family comes first; the media have incessantly demanded an explanation for his constant desire for riches and security. When Carlos declared that he wanted to move clubs to get closer to his family in Buenos Aires, people slated his desire to move to Milan, Paris or Madrid. In typical British fashion we laughed off the suggestion that such European hotspots would help a Hispanic player and his family live their lives, when he could continue to live in Manchester. A true cultural hub.
For most, the nature of Tevez’s unwavering behaviour on the pitch was hypocritical of his insolent manner off it. That a man with such a hard work ethic and talent in such abundance could turn from the game so easily was too sacrilege for most fans to accept. So we didn’t, and declared him a mad man. Every contract upgrade or record breaking transfer deal was only met with cynicism over the need for one man to have so much money and never the most important aspect; that he had always proved his worth.
When the Argentinean voyaged back to South America, the media refused to allow him control over the situation. He hadn’t gone back to visit his family, he’d been banished from the city of football for his crimes against the ‘sport’. Carlos Tevez wasn’t picking his family over an employer. He was refusing to play football, and was rubbing it in every fan’s face. Every season ticket holder across the country was insulted. How dare he offend the beautiful game? How dare he put something (or someone) before this ‘sport’?
This affair between Tevez and the Manchester City did more than plainly highlight a scenario where a player may or may not have been mistreated by a club. It underlined our initial reaction and loyalties. It drew our lines in the sand for us, and scoffed as we stood ashamed at where we stood. The famous line ‘no man is bigger than the club’ is stitched throughout football like a commandment for each to memorise, but few ever question the implications of allowing such a mandate to exist.
Carlos Tevez now returns to Manchester City with his tail between his legs and an apology well versed and satisfactory to return things once again to their normal order. The player walks back to the City of Manchester stadium with a chip in his shoulder – not for the pain and anger such legal battles have caused – but in acceptance that he’ll never be able to escape this oppression.
He’s paid to play football, to win games, to entertain to us; a professional football player, not a man.
(if you disagree with this then there’s very little hope left for you)
Twitter – @SBienkowski