Harriet Walker: Put temptation in the way of footballers and they'll fall for it


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The Independent Online

Poor old Rio Ferdy. He has, to use his own phrase, been merked. This week's ruling that Ferdinand's kisses are not his not to tell finally goes some way to bringing down the boy kings of the beautiful game.

The story goes that Ferdinand snuck a girl into his hotel when, as captain of the England squad, he was supposed to be of unimpeachable character. The fact of his infidelity to his wife Rebecca is neither here nor there – he was under orders that night to lie back and think of England, and to do it on his own.

Our public servants do not have private lives: this has been the lesson since the heyday of Tory sleaze. Given the woeful performance of the England team recently we should have the right to run Ferdinand's sheets up a flagpole, let alone read about his kiss and tells in the gutter press.

This is not to condone the culture of entrapment that goes on with high-profile sportsmen, but to try to stem the flow a bit. These men are false idols; they cannot cope with being young, handsome, rich, famous and rampant. They cannot control themselves.

And so, it has long been the practice of the club manager to see them married off like Renaissance princes, to a good-looking girl who will one day inherit Victoria Beckham's duchy of dresses or Coleen's principality of Littlewoods. It is supposed to stabilise them, to poop their partying, to contain their priapism and hedonistic habits. Like fun it does. The waist-deep gloop of football scandal, of highs and infidelities, is proof. What young man with balls for brains can turn down one artful attempt to ensnare him, let alone 300 a week?

Footballers are in the bizarre position of being told that certain women (their wives) are good for them, while others (their groupies) are not. And then they're shut in a hotel together and told not to go near a hair extension or high heel until after the game. You can see their frustration.

Perhaps if footballers were able to glut themselves on the ever-ready masses of would-be WAGs, perhaps if they really were able to shoot all those fish in that barrel, they wouldn't feel the need to sneak girls into their hotel rooms and they wouldn't end up so consistently hoist by their own petards. They wouldn't find themselves in such Hegelian hot water as self before duty, and they would find it easier to lie back and think of Eng-er-land. Alone.