Janet Street-Porter: Poor Sol may cry foul, but it's footballers who need a good kicking

Fans hurl taunts and insults at the Pompey star. His crime? He changed teams. But some players are guilty of much worse
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The Independent Online

Sol Campbell is an intelligent man, but not necessarily gifted with a huge amount of logic. Since he switched from Spurs to Arsenal he has been roundly derided by supporters from his former club. Now he's at Portsmouth, the catcalls and jeering are so bad the poor fellow has taken to calling up the Today programme whimpering on about "abuse", claiming that not only the FA but also the Government should get involved in trying to stop it.

Whatever the fans shout about Sol, it's clear that he considers the taunts as bad as racial abuse, and is so rattled that he bothered to call up and air his grievances at some length. I cannot imagine that many of the party animals who play for Manchester United bothered to tune to Radio 4, but I would have been fascinated to hear their views on human rights abuse.

We are constantly told that black youths lack decent role models and Communities minister Hazel Blears is so keen to have an "initiative" of her own that she's appointed a panel of leading businessmen to go around Britain spreading the word that you don't have to be a footballer or a pop star to be a success.

Just how big their task is was demonstrated by revelations concerning last week's Manchester United Christmas party, organised by their captain Gary Neville, which ended at 4am with allegations of rape.

My idea of having a good time is a good meal and drinks with friends, and perhaps a bit of an embarrassing dance afterwards. But these young men, who earn thousands of pounds every week kicking a ball about for Man U, decided to hold a party to which their wives and girlfriends were not invited.

How very stylish and what an excellent example to young men up and down the land about the value of long-term relationships. In other words, they can be switched on and off at will, whenever the male in question decides, as he is the major breadwinner.

These blokes then "put the word out" they would welcome the attendance of up to 100 attractive so-called actresses and models at a hotel in Manchester which they booked for the night, for a party that didn't even get started till 10pm. This was after they had started the celebrations with lunch, been entertained by burlesque dancers and drag queens, done a spot of gambling, drunk for several hours in a pub owned by an actress from Coronation Street, visited a lap-dancing club and then pitched up the worse for wear at a hotel that they had paid to have closed to the public.

Why would you have a party in a hotel unless you planned to make use of the bedrooms? It's like having a rave in a brothel and deciding to be celibate. Last year the team's bar bill at their Christmas bash was reputed to have reached 43,000 and that is a hell of a lot of money which could have helped the homeless, the destitute and the desperate. This year's escapades were said to be costing around 4,000 per player. Cast your mind back to the charity Mayday for Nurses, for which premier league players promised a day's wages. There were all sorts of difficulties in collecting the money, and many players didn't even bother to contribute.

It's thanks to footballers that I am familiar with the horrible term "roasting" the way in which some of them describe group sex, a fact which emerged when a 17-year-old alleged she was gang-raped by footballers in 2003 in a London hotel.

Over the years there have been various allegations about footballers and gross sexual misconduct the fact that few of these cases ever reach the courts does not mean that nothing unpleasant and degrading happened. After all, less than six in every 100 rape cases end with a conviction, a shockingly low figure.

And who could deny that the stupid young girls who lined up outside that Manchester hotel last week were not hoping to meet a famous footballer and be able to boast to their friends about the night?

It all goes to show that, no matter how horrible the taunts may be that so upset Sol Campbell, he belongs to a profession that treats women like flotsam, and whose highest earners drink way too much and are no sort of a role model.

With this credit card, I thee wed

I salute Susan Crossley for sheer cheek in demanding a fat wad of cash from her latest ex-husband having amassed around 18m from previous divorces. After mug number one, the heir to the Kwik Save empire (length of marriage a measly 18 months), she tied the knot with shoe millionaire Peter Lilley. Susan eventually bolted with Robert Sangster, heir to a pools fortune and 20 years older. After five years, they divorced and she picked up 16m. With this track record, it's hard to see why Stuart Crossley (12 years her senior) didn't hear warning bells when they were introduced on a blind date. But he fell for the glamorous Susan hook, line and sinker, marrying 14 weeks later, in January 2006. It was all over by the August and now Susan Crossley has tried (and failed) to get her prenuptial agreement annulled, claiming that hubbie number four hid "tens of millions" in off-shore accounts. He called her "a career divorcee" I'd call him a stupid wally. Any woman who collects a fortune from four marriages is no fool.

Forget the beauty myths and pass the mince pies

I know that expensive face cream is not going to eradicate wrinkles, and that the fake scientific mumbo-jumbo you read in ads for the stuff is just designed to make us wish our skin was as taut and dewy as it was decades ago.

Consumer groups and doctors have poured scorn on these so-called miracle creams, dismissing the more extravagant claims as "pure waffle". But most of us secretly know that's the case sometimes you actually feel better just because you've slapped something that cost a fortune on your tired, grey cheeks.

Now scientists have de-bunked another health myth telling us that drinking eight glasses of water a day (which many beauty writers swear is essential to "flush out" toxins) is no better than drinking the equivalent amount of liquid through imbibing tea, coffee, juices or milk.

Too much water, in fact, can be fatal. The sight of women clutching mini bottles of Evian is one of the most grotesque examples of waste I can think of hopefully, now, these sad fashion victims will see the light.

Meanwhile, a study in the medical journal The Lancet claims that dark chocolate is not necessarily good for you, as many manufacturers have removed the flavanoids the good ingredient because it is rather bitter.

The best way to get through Christmas is clearly with several mince pies and a cup of tea.

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