Wayne Rooney’s involvement with a prostitute has sparked a craze of comment. Unlike a politician it hasn’t wrecked his career. The Tab asks why.
Wayne Rooney has recently confirmed his place in the playing away from home hall of fame. His name will rank alongside a whole host of world-class love rats including Peter Shilton, John Terry, Shane Warne and the undisputed “top shagger”, Tiger Woods.
Rooney’s form when it comes to playing away was already impressive even before Jennifer Thompson’s revelations in the News of the world; in 2004 his relationship with Coleen was rocked by “granny-gate.” While his continued use of prostitutes has often damaged relations with Coleen it has done nothing to hold back his football career.
If a politician was substituted in Rooney’s place events would likely have been very different. For example, Joe Ashton, a distinguished Labour MP, resigned after being hounded by the press about his alleged use of “thai massage parlours”. Why is that sportsmen who use prostitutes are treated so differently to politicians?
One reason is that people simply like footballers, cricketers and other athletes more than those who hold office. We are prepared to overlook Rooney’s dalliances for the emotional highs his ability can produce. As this country’s top footballing talent he is seen as critical to the national team’s success. While Fabio Capello expressed doubts about Rooney’s fitness to play in the immediate aftermath of the revelations he was never going to overlook the England no. 9. Rooney’s performance not only won the match but also appeared to absolve him in the eyes of many supporters.
Politicians are neither as liked nor seen as so indispensable. Admittedly, some MPs and, in America, certain governors do appear to set themselves up for a fall. The right-wing press had a field day when Governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer, was linked to a prostitution ring. His previous remarks about being a “fucking steamroller” in his drive to rid the city of corruption ensured his fall from grace was all the more bruising. Be that as it may the sheer malevolent glee of many commentators and hacks at the time left a sour taste in the mouth.
When sportsmen use prostitutes it is seen by many supporters as a case of simply letting off steam. Within the laddish context of the terraces such activities are often celebrated as a confirmation of the athlete’s virility. Shane Warne’s image as a blokey genius was done no damage by the numerous allegations about his sex life including a story in the News of the World in 2006 about his antics with two models. Politicians are not viewed in the same way. While his name is difficult to rhyme with anyway, if David Cameron was ever caught paying for sex he would be well out of office before anyone even considered a chant about his sexual prowess.
However, there are encouraging signs that sportsmen are no longer going to have such a relatively easy ride. The high court overturning of John Terry’s super-injunction set an important precedent. Sportsmen should be exposed to the same scrutiny as their political counterparts. Moreover, it is this type of ruling that forces athletes to consider their position as role models.
Here are a few other sportsmen who survived the media storm.
The Minnesota Vikings Boat Orgy, 2005
In 2005, a large group including 17 members of the Minnesota Vikings pro football team and several strippers rented two boats and used them for an alleged sex party on Lake Minnetonka. The “love boat” scandal which involved team members performing sex acts in front of the boat’s crew created a media frenzy. Charges were brought against four members of the team including star quarterback, Daunte Culpepper. However, despite two of the players being fined for misconduct their careers were unaffected. In fact, one of the players, Bryant Mckinnie, enjoyed a pay rise a day after the fine was levied.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Anderson and Nani
No stranger to prostitutes, red-blooded Ronaldo set up a sex party for him and his team mates in 2005. The News of the Screws and the Sun, as you would expect, both experienced a temporary bump in readership as a result of the scandal. Ronaldo and his team mates were threatened with a team fine but were presumably only subjected to Fergie’s famous hair dryer treatment.