Wayne Rooney will find out tomorrow if he is to be fined for showcasing his extended vocabulary on camera following the completion of his hat-trick against West Ham yesterday afternoon. It appears that he was so emotional at having scored three goals and helped his team to claw victory from the jaws of defeat that he said a naughty word or two. Let's just get this in perspective.
Footballers are known for generally not being the most educated or controlled sporting beings on this planet, yet our invasive, reality-obsessed TV coverage insists on documenting their every utterance or bodily function, on and off the pitch. We get close-ups of these people expectorating, clearing their nostrils, even peeing or vomiting (yes, Jens Lehmann and Gary Neville, I'm talking about you). This goes with the territory: being in receipt of enormous salaries our TV companies think they have to right to broadcast their every movement. Sometimes, like in the case of our Wayne on Saturday afternoon, an excellent player exhibits the passion that we, as Brits, love to relate to when talking about our best footballers: "He didn't have the best technique in the game, but what commitment; he'd have died for that shirt". You know what I'm talking about: Terry Butcher wearing a turban in Argentina (??), Bryan Robson's nose distributed evenly down the front of his shirt, so-and-so playing on with one of his legs hanging off etc. Wayne scores what could be the goals that take a record-breaking nineteenth championship title to Old Trafford, invasive cameras home in on him and catch him swearing for joy and emotion. And then promptly threaten to fine him. Quite frankly, if you're fined for showing passion and commitment in a sport widely criticised for destroying these qualities, then we're really up the creek and no mistake. This brings me on to the French national team.
Last year in South Africa, a group of overpaid and overrated thugs, mainly from French council estates, pitched up in South Africa to compete for the FIFA World Cup. On no occasion did any of them show the passion for which our Wayne is now standing trial, yet they not only insulted their admittedly controversial head coach, Raymond Domenech, but then went on strike when said supremo sent Nicolas Anelka home for unacceptable and insulting behaviour. Sent packing in humiliating fashion after a gutless first round, many refused to pass up on their match bonuses (for what???), despite having made the team and country a laughing stock. All this just a handful of years after the vintage of Zidane, Deschamps, Barthez et al entranced the world with their inventive, beautiful and effective playing style, winning the competition in 1998 and the European Championship in 2000.
If Wayne is to be fined for his performance and his passion, the French team of 2010 needs to be guillotined.