From the publishers of THE HINDU

VOL.34 :: NO.17 :: Apr. 28, 2011

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COLUMN / LONDON CALLING

Rooney and Amir deserve guidance

Wayne Rooney and Mohammad Amir have in common a misunderstanding of the way the world works. If they are to be the fine sportsmen their talent suggests they deserve help. By Ted Corbett.

Let's talk about money, job satisfaction, profanity and how a cricketer should be treated when he tears the laws to shreds.

Oh, and Wayne Rooney who was banned from a Premier League match and an FA Cup semi-final for swearing — most aggressively — into a camera after scoring a hat-trick against West Ham.

What was Rooney's message? He had been assailed by comments on the durability of his marriage throughout the match but, hey, that is par for the course in the cauldron that is top football hereabouts.

Why did the Football Association feel obliged to ban Rooney for two matches? His offence was to use a common — very common in the other sense — word to emphasise his success from the penalty spot a few minutes earlier. “You ....ing beauty,” he exclaimed so that all the world could hear.

You can, on a bad day, discover schoolchildren repeating the word I have chosen to leave out. Not that it is a justification for Rooney running towards the camera and hurling the offensive word at the audience but it does show that the argument “schoolboys may hear that dreadful word” is fallacious.

I will also put the other side of the argument. A schoolmaster called my favourite BBC phone-in to say that children mimic their heroes. In soccer games he heard swearing, saw quarrels with the referee and a whole load of other bad behaviour.

If the same youngsters played Rugby — a game noted for good behaviour — there was no swearing and the referee was obeyed instantly.

I would also like to know why Sky TV didn't take action against Rooney for using foul language in the middle of their programme. Instead they played the tape repeatedly although they turned down the audio and made it impossible to lip-read Rooney's words.

There is also the argument about various other stars who have run into trouble — the Beatles, Ian Botham, Shane Warne and a string of big names from sport and show biz — that they have such special talent that they deserve a blind eye to be turned on their mischief.

Once you go down that path you open up the way for all sorts of unjust practices. One law for the rich, talented and famous and another for the working man. Not in any country I live in I hope.

No doubt about it Rooney is quick and strong, fearless and decisive, and has the perfect build for a footballer from his sturdy body to his low centre of gravity allied to legs strong enough to get him above tall defenders and his ability to use both feet either to pass or shoot.

One goal this year has been described as the goal of the season. He broke up a stalemate with a somersaulting shot from a corner that left most spectators stunned and a famous commentator lost for words. Well, for a second anyway.

Finally, why didn't Manchester United, their manager Sir Alex Ferguson or the American money men who own the club take action?

In fact the club backed his appeal against the length of the sentence.

Presumably they felt that Rooney had been abused once too often and that he had been punished too harshly. That can be the only reason because the FA has the power to increase punishments that they consider an appeal frivolous.

That is not the way I saw the Rooney incident. His face was screwed up, he acted as if he had it in mind to hit someone — it has been compared to a bad case of road rage — and although TV cameramen are used to all sorts of nastiness the operator who took the full force of Rooney's words must have been worried about how the moment would end.

His two-match ban will not mean a lot to Rooney. Perhaps his accountant will have to change a couple of lines in his income tax return to account for the loss of earnings but the family will struggle through as rich folk always do.

I am more concerned about the future of the three Pakistan cricketers kicked out of the game after the deliberate bowling of no-balls, apparently to help a bookmaker.

That is a way of punishing overstepping was not considered in the law changes of a couple of years ago when the free hit was invented.

I have no concern about this way of tackling the no-ball but I am worried about the effect on the youngster Mohammad Amir, a fine bowler in prospect although that has nothing to do with his crime. (I use crime in its correct sense because all three offenders are to be tried in this country.)

ICC has a duty of care towards a lad playing under their authority. I hope that when the court case is finished the Council will make public details of their hopes for setting this lad on the right path and how they will see that he becomes the fine bowler of his coaches' forecast.

Then they might get round to taking a further steps towards eliminating spot betting from the game that is now inundated by such practices.

Rooney and Mohammad Amir have in common a misunderstanding of the way the world works. If they are to be the fine sportsmen their talent suggests they deserve help.

Now it is down to the cricket and football authorities to provide that support before other young players follow them down the same path.



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