Sport on TV: Fabio's females keep abreast of the World Cup's other half
Sunday 23 May 2010
Given Jermain Defoe's success at scoring and finishing, it's surprising that he's not the first name on Fabio Capello's teamsheet. Unfortunately, however, we're talking women, not goals. On Wags, Kids and World Cup Dreams (BBC3, Sunday) we follow five of our footballers' accessories as they travel to some of the hotbeds of deprivation in South Africa. But a week before the trip Defoe's squeeze, the topless model Imogen Thomas, went through his text messages and walked out after finding a flurry of flirtations. As a striker he could not defend the indefensible.
Defoe has previous in this regard, having once agreed to his then partner Charlotte Mears appearing on 'Million Pound Place in the Sun' to look for their ideal holiday hideaway, only to baulk at her every suggestion over the phone and then dump her. Maybe he's just camera shy.
Another of the five "wives and girlfriends" is Elen Rivas, who left Frank Lampard last year, so it's more 'Ex-Factor' than 'England's Got Talent'. These Wags are dropping off faster than Wayne Rooney's bodyparts before a World Cup.
Reeling from the loss of her deep emotional attachment, Imogen unsurprisingly struggles to cope with her first task: feeding and changing nappies and giving medication to 37 orphaned, HIV+ toddlers at the Bephumelele centre in Cape Town's sprawling shanty town of Khayelitsha. It would be a gruelling task for anyone, let alone a woman who says "so there's a lot of racism in South Africa" after learning about "pat-tite" for the first time. The only way she is equipped to deal with such a large number of babies is by having a large pair of breasts.
Not so Ellie Darby, partner of Matthew Upson, who was showcased in The Wags' Stories (BBC3, Monday). She has her own baby, Elijah; she is a dedicated athlete, an 800m runner who hopes to compete at London 2012; and she says of the Wag phenomenon, "I don't know what it means and I don't care". At 23, she shows an impressive maturity – "It's important to be emotionally in control. It's the people we'll meet who have suffered, not me" – but she is soon utterly overwhelmed.
She had promised Upson that she wouldn't bring any children back with her, but that doesn't stop her from pledging to support some of them with her man's absurdly inflated wages. Fair game.
So in spite of Capello's insistence that there would be no repeat of the revolting Wagfest that captured the headlines in Germany four years ago, some of the Wags did make the trip to South Africa. No doubt they wanted to get back home to the lapdance of luxury as soon as possible. Not because of what they had witnessed in the benighted country, but because they were worried about what their emotionally needy other halves might be getting up to in their absence.
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