Britain’s Beijing heroes can teach soccer a thing or two

August 26, 2008

British Olympic medal winnersStanding in the reception of a Heathrow hotel watching a roll call of British gold-medal winners file past, the overriding impression was just how normal they all seemed.

There was something wonderfully natural and down-to-earth about these luminaries of Britain’s finest Olympic effort in a century.

Hearing them articulate their thoughts about the last few weeks in Beijing, it was hard to avoid making comparisons with Premier League footballers.

Of course, these Olympians were relishing their moment in the sun — whereas top-level footballers facing the media spotlight day in, day out may become understandably more guarded.

One Times writer made the point that if the rowers received “120,000 pounds a week, a team of flunkies, a 10-page spread in Hello! and more groupies than they know what to do with”, they too might find their priorities blurred.

It is evident that the massive earnings of top soccer players have set them apart — and ensured they are considered fair game for criticism by both media and fans. Yet their own behaviour — be it snarling indiscipline on the field or excessive salary demands off it — does not help their image either.

Some are also guilty of believing their own hype — as evidenced by the sight of ears glittering with expensive jewellery when they pass through mixed zones after matches.

Arguably the epitome of this came at the 2006 World Cup in Germany when England’s footballers shut themselves away in an exclusive Baden Baden resort. The only thing ordinary about the Golden Generation was their performance level.

For the unassuming sportsmen and women on view at Heathrow, the only gold on view was that dangling from their necks.

PHOTO: Britain’s Olympic gold medallists arrive back from the Beijing at Heathrow Airport in London, Aug 25 REUTERS/Luke MacGregor


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It’s all about demand – Football is the most popular game in England and so Footballers are the highest paid athletes. But don’t forget that football is also one of the most wearing sports there is and at the age of 30 they are already so Brocken down with joints damage and other injuries that will make the rest of their life not very comfortable, so let them have their glory and high salaries.

Posted by Sports news | Report as abusive

Simon Hart’s point is well taken. England’s footballers have scored something of an Own Goal by their hedonistic excesses, which contrast so unfavourably with the unassuming modesty of the Olympians.

Posted by Dr Catherine Moloney | Report as abusive

Sorry, but whilst football may be the most popular game in England and I accept that they should be well paid athletes how can anyone really justify saleries between £10,000 – £100,000 per week???

According to a survey carried out in April 2006 the average top flight player earns £676,000 per annum (thats £13,000 per week). That surely has increased since once you take into inflation and player demand.

Yes i know there will be claims that players only have a shelf life of 10 years, but thats still a staggering £6.76m over 10 years and i am certain that excludes any advertising contracts, interviews with Hello/OK magazine, let alone any interest earned on the income!!!

Christ for that salery you would have thought they could at least manage to attend a course on manners, etiquette and public relations….

Posted by Toby | Report as abusive