September 13th, 2010
10:50 AM ET

Do promiscuous footballers need support?

Could Wayne Rooney have benefited from more guidance?
Could Wayne Rooney have benefited from more guidance?

You may have heard recently that the private life of Manchester United and England striker Wayne Rooney has been subject to allegations in several British tabloid newspapers.

Once again, a rich and famous sports star has apparently not been able to resist the temptations associated with his status and his bank account. Am I the only one who is not surprised? To be honest it didn’t shock me at all.

Without forgiving the situation, if indeed it proves to be true, it throws light once again on the lives of the privileged elite of the sporting world and the morality of their conduct. It also raises the question of whether there is enough support for these individuals from those who create their stardom.

Tiger Woods' transgression were notorious but if anything, the culture within the elite of Europe's footballing class for promiscuity and philandering, is more ingrained and widespread.

It would be fair to say that exceptional circumstances contribute to this. In the modern-day game, where soccer is an entertainment that captivates the world, the players can attain unimaginable wealth and fame at a very young age.

Often, in Europe's top clubs, there will be at least ten millionaires under the age of 25 within the squad. All whose faces are well known, are highly attractive to the opposite sex and have money and time to burn. Some are single, many are married.

Everywhere they go, they hear how great they are and how they can do no wrong. They have agents who help them buy houses, cars, help them pay their bills and who book flights and holidays. What is the only thing that most of them have to worry about? Running and kicking a ball.

The lifestyle is alluring and glamorous and there are also many women who seek to capitalize on this. A career can be built on being the girlfriend of a famous footballer, and many are ruthless in their pursuit of such riches as there is money to be made from kiss-and-tell stories. Therefore, every time they go out, they have girls all over them. Every time they are on the road, they have girls all over them.

What is worse, such fame, means many footballers have few people around them they can trust. In their mind, family and childhood friends are the only ones who loved them before they were famous. That leads to one of the biggest mistakes, marrying their first girlfriend, the girl who cared about them before they were rich. Believe it or not, players’ agents and coaches actually encourage them to do this, to settle the player, create an image of maturity and to build the role-model persona that is so valuable in the commercial world.

And herein the problem lies, because with the attention and opportunities for sex available to these guys, many cheat and then end up getting caught. Few have the maturity to walk away from provocative situations and few tell such groupies that flirting and sleeping together is off limits because they have a wife at home.

It seems strange that so much preparation is given to the players' performance on the pitch - with a support network helping hone every area from nutrition to fitness - while the management of their lives as celebrities away from the pitch falls on the shoulders of these young men alone.

In my eyes, everyone needs to start taking more responsibility, starting with the clubs who pay their athletes hundreds of thousands of dollars every week. In our jobs we have training courses, right? Well why don’t teams start enrolling players in media training and why don’t they organize classes with sports psychologists? It might go a long way to exposing these players to some of the temptations they will face in the future.

Agents need to grow up too. Instead of encouraging their clients to get married to their first girlfriend at the age of 25 or earlier, why don’t they manage their life a little more intelligently? At least, if the players stay single longer, then they can act more irresponsibility and associate with as many escorts or strippers as they like without being judged by society.

Success is a Pandora's box, a life-changing experience, and for many footballers it needs to be managed better.

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Filed under:  Football
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Nick

    What an interesting and enriching article. Now I no longer have to buy COSMO, it's all on CNN.

    September 13, 2010 at 12:04 pm | Reply
  2. DangleMonster

    Slow news day huh?

    September 13, 2010 at 12:15 pm | Reply
  3. James

    Bravo...for pointing out to the footballers' (or any other athlete) need for maturity, responsibility and integrity. Their pursuit for excellence on the field should be matched by their pursuit for excellence in private life. I suggest that these sports stars watch "Chariots of Fire" and review carefully the life of Eric Liddell.

    September 13, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Reply
  4. Wayne

    This is actually a good opinion piece. It is amazing how much temptation is out there for all professional athletes. All I hear is criticism (from no talent wannabees who pay money to watch these guys play Football – American Football – Basketball – Golf) about how easy their lives are because of how much money they make. As the saying goes Mo' Money Mo' Problems. I guarentee these 'critics' were in those stars shoes' they would make the same mistakes. Take Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant and Wayne Rooney for example. If they mess up the tabloids will make money by exploiting their short comings. Instead of judging the athlete's personal lives maybe there needs to be more management and advice available to these atheletes. But let's be honest, this will blow over. Rooney be divorced and it won't be news anymore.

    September 13, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Reply
  5. forme

    I don't totally agree its the age but also the amount of money that they get need to be manged well and coached to trust and continue with a loving and caring family life.

    September 13, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Reply
  6. alehandro

    We all have training in our jobs, you say. Perhaps you need a course on not making sweeping generalizations with no statistical back up. How many millionaire footballers are there in the game? By your own assumption, 10 per team. How many sex scandals (extra marital of otherwise) have there been? Personally, I can think of no more than a few. Doesn't that suggest that the majority of these young millionaires handle their fame and fortune pretty well? Furthermore, if you look at the general male population would you find that the percentage of "Players" is any higher than it is among footballers? I suspect not,. You also portray the women that these footballers come into contact with as predatory gold-diggers. That's another wild generalization, not to mention mysogynistic, and also implies that these young men are helpless pawns, while the truth is often the opposite. If you've ever been on a boys night out you'd know that it's not unknown for the guys to do the hunting. Yes, when you're a multi-millionaire, the opportunities may be greater, but unless you're talking about having sex with a groupie who's come knocking on your door at midnight, a certain amount of wooing is still required, which means the footballer has taken an active part in the process. Finally, if you'd bothered to check with any of the clubs, media training and schooling in responsible social behavior is part of the drill. It's also instilled in playerss that they have a duty to uphold the name of the club and do nothing to distract from the business of playing football.

    September 13, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Reply
  7. Mike K

    Well, I for one could care less what they do in their private life. I go to games to watch my team win. So long as they win on the field, what they do in their private life behind closed doors is no business of mine. But of course if everyone took that view then how would all these poor news organizations make any money.

    Here's an idea. Make all the "partners" of these players sign a contract that they know their other 1/2 is going to dabble in some hanky panky cause well were men and that's what we do. Then all these tititalating news stories would be moot.

    I'm just a regular guy, and I'm married, and we have an open relationship. It keeps our sex fresh and fun, and if there some other type of "itch" the other does not scratch, we are free to do so.

    If more of these dummies had a lifestyle like that, then there would be no issues.

    September 13, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Reply
  8. Isaac

    nicely written Pedro . Your article truly reflect the main problems facing our elite stars. We so often to criticize them when they do mistake,but we never realize that they are also human beings . I guess it is best for the media to leave their private alone so that they can manage their life better.

    September 13, 2010 at 2:29 pm | Reply
  9. ufolko

    Just wondering, maybe alehandro works in one of the clubs, all the same, the males are always out for some action / hunting and the females simply make themselves pretty and somewhat available. the cash and the glamour just makes things easier and the environment conducive for many things to happen with caution gone with the wind . . . . .

    September 13, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Reply
  10. ikenna tadeus

    why don't you alll mind your own business, quite a number of you have a few issuesnot necessarily sex related though,so just shove it.

    September 13, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Reply
  11. Arina

    wow CNN is really really keeping up with the news . I saved myself money today – no gossip magazines are that good!

    September 13, 2010 at 2:50 pm | Reply
  12. runriver

    What Wayne Rooney or any other athlete does in their private life is their business and not ours. I like watching them on the pitch do their job but really couldn't care less about their off field exploits. What's particularly annoying is the media and peoples' urge to condemn/judge these individuals as if their own self absorbed criticism is at all interesting – yawn. People get away with far greater injustices everyday.

    September 13, 2010 at 2:54 pm | Reply
  13. Bob Jones

    I fail to understand why these issues are extrapolated/exaggerated; relax guys; what's the big deal; same about Tiger woods.

    Let us cut this image of "family man" , it is not realistic. Get on with your lives.

    September 13, 2010 at 3:07 pm | Reply
  14. Saby

    Mr Pinto,

    I agree with most of the above posters. These guys are paid to play football, and well. They are not UN Ambassadors or religious role models. Neither should they be forced to. As Charles Barkley famously noted , it is the parents' job to do this.

    If they want to do what they do, and it helps them to cope with the abnormal pressure of their job then let them. Their wives knew what they were getting into. Also the general population , or for that matter, celebrities do it all the time and nobody seems to mind. Why discriminate against footballers. I have a son and I tell him to look up to the hard work and practice these guys put in. Not whether they are polite and behave well.

    I have no interest whatsoever in Rooney's private life and neither should people like you.

    September 13, 2010 at 3:52 pm | Reply
  15. Louarn

    They are no different than any regular male person. Just being famous, they get caught much more easily. This they should understand.

    September 13, 2010 at 4:19 pm | Reply
  16. midori

    People are so crazy about celebs and famous. Why we have to live or follow their lives so closely. If they are irresponsibles is because society are also irresponsible to press everyone to live a normal (?) life according our rules and concepts. If they get a lot money, good for them! It seems that people is so envy because of this and try to criticize them, when we (ordinary people) have been committed acts so bad if compared to them. Try to remember, as a man as you are, you have cheated once in while.
    So, celebs or not we are the same!

    September 13, 2010 at 5:20 pm | Reply
  17. R4L

    Women like anything with bank account, no matter how unattractive the man. ?SAD Rooney never had any class. Who Cares?! Oh yeah OK magazine readers do. GET A LIFE!

    September 13, 2010 at 7:23 pm | Reply
  18. rh

    Exactly what Alehandro said. Yes, a few people have mucked about on their spouses, but look at how many haven't. And money isn't the only thing, there are more than a few US MNT scandals that have played out, and it's not like any of the US players in the 80s or 90s were making a lot of dough.

    The major problem is that the vast majority of the pro footballers have never had to fight for anything. Lots of stuff comes their way automatically. I know women – and men – who would indeed sleep with someone rich and famous to just get their hands on the money, if they could get access that is.

    September 13, 2010 at 8:55 pm | Reply
  19. Brit Abroad

    "then they can act more irresponsibility and associate with as many escorts or strippers as they like without being judged by society"

    Therein lies the root of the problem. Somehow the exploitation of women has become an acceptable past-time in "society"... if you're not married it appears. Rooney will continue to be paid by his sponsors and adored by kids. While I agree that it would be wrong to make a scapegoat of Rooney, I think we need to look at what this says about our cultural norms and the society we are responsible for.

    September 13, 2010 at 10:39 pm | Reply
  20. HL

    great article. Totally agree with that atheletes should undergo some kind of courses or have to see a sports psychologist during their contracts in order to be aware of such pitfalls.

    September 14, 2010 at 5:30 am | Reply
  21. Another Brit Abroad

    "then they can act more irresponsibility and associate with as many escorts or strippers as they like without being judged by society"

    very poor grammar. I believe writer wanted to type irresponsibly. This tabloid junk shouldnt be reported by CNN anyway

    September 14, 2010 at 7:41 am | Reply
  22. kayode

    it's amazing the way everyone come out to chastise guys with peck of wood in their eyes and forget they have logs of wood in their own eyes. The society is full of hypocrites who cry foul when they were not yet caught. Everyone would be caught one day. From Ashley cole to tiger woods to wayne Rooney and who next.... The list is endless. The thief who laughs and make jest of another thief is only marking time for his own day when he would be caught. And let me not hear about women being exploited in this. They were willing accomplices blindfolded by unbriddled desire to grab undeserved wealth from unsuspecting men. The laws should be reviewed to tackle all these injustice from women.

    September 14, 2010 at 11:19 am | Reply
  23. Dan

    the fammily man U

    September 14, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Reply
  24. Dutch

    whoever writes this.....pinto? give me a break. its all the downfall of fame and money, whether its in the "soccer world",aka football, the movie celebrities, or the music celebrities. It will happen, and will continue to happen, and to promote the European clubs the need to have classes such as media training and sports psychologists? You are trying to Americanize the sport. This will never happen. How about you look at all your American star players, basketball, american football, and the amount of times they mess up their relationships due to their fame and money. And from what u just said, I assume the North American sports have introduced the concept of "media training and sports psychologists"? Well have those high rolling boys done any better so far? I don't think so from what I read in the papers. Only because they are famous and wealthy the bad stuff they do gets published. But this happens to everyone, whether they are rich and famous, or poor. So why don't you write an article about this world being how it is, not right, and recommend everyone in this world to psychologists so they can live a better life. And will psychologists really help men or women cheating on their wives/husbands? In america it hasnt, so please delete this message.

    September 14, 2010 at 11:26 pm | Reply
  25. Ifeanyi

    Rooney had just a one night stand... i am sure that many of you here clamouring for his head practice two night stands...

    September 16, 2010 at 9:20 am | Reply

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