Shamed football stars are no role models

by Andrew Moir

A Lack of respect in football
A Lack of respect in football

As Rangers FC stars Barry Ferguson and Allan McGregor are suspended from their clubs and banned by their countriy there are fears that this may influence young players.

The footballers were dropped to the bench for Scotland’s World Cup Qualifier against Iceland after embarking on an all night drinking session following Scotland’s defeat to the Netherlands in Amsterdam. The players did not heed this warning and instead made obscene gestures to the cameras they knew were watching them. This was deemed unacceptable by the Scottish Football Association (SFA) and by Rangers FC. Not only will the duo never play for their country again but they are likely to be sold at a much reduced price when the summer transfer window opens. But are do these players have an influence on aspiring youngsters?

Iain Edmonstone has been a coach of school football teams for more than 20 years. He does not think that this behaviour filters down to aspiring players. “I’m sure none of the young players are impressed by these antics. They certainly don’t see these guys at role models. I certainly don’t see the diving and the cheating at that level.”

While he doesn’t see this replicated in his own players he thinks that the unacceptable behaviour is picked up inside the clubs. “It’s an institutional problem. There’s a lack of respect for management and for the SFA. If you want to look at an example from another sport then, what about Lewis Hamilton? He’s probably been with McLaren since he was 13. There’s an arrogance amongst certain individuals who think they can get away with anything.”

Former Celtic, Ross County and Partick Thistle player Henry Creaney thinks this lack of respect occurs because young footballers are isolated from the rest of society. “It all comes down to money. These kids will go into an academy at a young age and have no idea how other people live. Guys between 18 and 20 have crazy money thrown at them. People don’t love the game in the same way any more. They are looking for money and that includes the parents.”

However Creaney believes that that respect works both ways. “When I played the referees would talk to you. They knew your name and they would interpret the rules using common sense. Now they all go by the letter of the law”

These incidents are not isolated. In August 2008 The English Football Association launched the Respect Campaign. This programme is to be in affect across all levels of football from the glamour of the Premier League right down to local leagues. The campaign launched many new ideas including a code of conduct for players and a new etiquette for talking to referees. According to the FA an average of 7,000 referees quit football every year. Respect aims to change this.

As both players and referees look for different kinds of recognition, mutual respect could be a distant prospect.