Sports Letter: Bad role model

Sir: The alacrity with which Chelsea FC reassured Graham Rix that his job would be waiting for him when he gets out of prison, after being convicted of having unlawful sex and indecent assault, was yet another depressing indication of the lack of any moral dimension in football's world view.

The game has become little more than a machine for making money. As part of this process, it promotes an aggressive and solipsistic model of "maleness", characterised by petulant and foul-mouthed immaturity on the pitch and arrogant, sometimes violent, behaviour off it.

As ever-more obscene amounts of money pour into the pockets of the relatively small number of people at the top end of the game, so everything becomes excusable. The men who play the game, the golden geese, are always "the lads", and every appalling piece of behaviour, particularly towards women, is portrayed as high spirits or, at the worst, a peccadillo, forgivable after a few mumbled, shamefaced platitudes on television. After all, the crowds love it, so who cares?

We should not be surprised, however, if our young males, who are genially encouraged to have an unhealthy obsession with "the game" from the age of four or five upwards, do not just ape the violent and triumphalist behaviour of their heroes, but adopt some of their more unattractive attitudes as well. Now that it has become de rigueur for the middle classes to proclaim their footballing credentials at every opportunity and dress little Sam and Toby in their favourite club's garish strip, I'm afraid the prep schools of the land may be in for a good deal of unacceptable off-the-ball behaviour.