People should care what spoiled and greedy footballers like Luis Suarez have to say

Julian Finney

A response to an article in The Mirror that attacks footballers as unintelligent and undeserving of an opinion.

There are people it's worth paying attention to.

The guy yelling "FIRE!" for example. Bill Nye, more often than not. The college kids texting on their phone while crossing the street, your lawyer -- the judge too while we're at it-- and, hell, even Luis Suarez.

But a secretive, somewhat jealous, pretentious writer for "The Mirror" that relies on old stereotypes to attack footballers?

No. It's not worth paying attention to Fleet Street Fox AT ALL (Yes! I realize the irony of writing this; it's practically mocking me.)

If you haven't read it yet, you should really scamper over and read her (his? Silhouette seems feminine) attack on footballers and their presumed idiocy. You can find it here.

The article has the temerity to ask who cares what Luis Suarez thinks, and that's supposed to be a rhetorical question, I'll go ahead and answer it for our esteemed writer. Liverpool fans care what Luis Suarez thinks; Brendan Rogers cares what Luis Suarez thinks; Luis Suarez's family and friends care what Luis Suarez thinks. And a host of football fans who heard his statement regarding the English media and reacted furiously before telling their friends and anyone who would listen about how much they didn't care.

Once you get past the misguided rhetorical questions -- which are hilariously wrong -- that are nothing more than personal attacks and wade deeper into the abyss, you will come across this gem: "Footballers don't have to sit any exams. They don't go to university or study for an NVQ."

For such an esteemed "writer" and assumingly well-traveled individual, our dear writer seems to resort to generalizations rather quickly. But since he/she is obviously relying on the "dumb athlete" stereotype for their argument, allow me to illuminate and correct her/him a bit on this situation, but not before showing you the absolutism of this article: the next paragraph starts off with a sentence that says with absolute certainty, "Footballers are footballers because they can't be anything else."

I'm not sure the flawless Juan Mata, who attended Universidad Politecnica de Madrid -- studying journalism no less! -- would agree with such a declaration. Maybe our esteemed writer has never heard of the late Socrates (the Brazilian) who was a doctor of medicine and philosophy (how fitting), or Steve Palmer, who studied software engineering at Cambridge. But perhaps he/she has heard of Oliver Bierhoff (economics), Slaven Bilic (law), Iain Dowie (Masters in aeronautical engineering), or maybe even Steve Coppell who finished his degree in economics after his move to Manchester United.

Maybe our angry writer doesn't put too much value in a degree. But even then, footballers are hardly a uniformly unaccomplished lot. Goal-machine Frank Lampard did after all score a 150 on his IQ test. Harold Braatbaak, former Celtic player, was a trained accountant and is now a pilot for Norwegian Air Shuttle. Gigi Buffon and Giorgio Chiellini have been rumored to be well-read individuals, Kevin-Prince Boateng has been suspected of giving his teammates books (gasp!) and crown jewel Guillem Bauza is a former teacher and qualified doctor.

I understand though, the allure of stupid stereotypes. A quick Google search can be painful; critical thinking unbearable -- reason and perspective always seem to get in the way of controversy and trolling. I have to sympathize with anyone who sees the world in black and white, because I cannot even begin to imagine how dull such a world is. So when our lovely writer attacks Suarez for having the gall to speak his mind, the immediate reaction isn't anger but pity.

For all of his faults -- and he has so many -- Luis Suarez is in fact, still human and does not enjoy reading hateful things about himself in the newspapers. Yes, I know that he brings this trouble upon himself, but the English press has a earned reputation of being sensational and xenophobic. Just ask Mario Balotelli, who famously told a journalist of The Sun that he will not speak to him after his move to AC Milan, or the commentators who tell us that only Johnny Foreigner dives. Better yet, ask them why England's Brave John Terry isn't treated in the same way as Suarez.

Our dear writer then carves a path of destruction with personal attacks against Ashley Cole, John Terry and unforgivably, David Beckham. Now, I will not stand Beckham slander of any kind, so when our favorite secret keyboard enthusiast criticizes David's handwritten post-match handwritten notes for Manchester United when he was still gliding through the youth team for putting a "k" ant the end of "everything" and spelling "loud" as "load", well, then I feel personally slighted.

While this is not an excuse for illiteracy of any kind, David Beckham was a youth team player! He was a kid -- are we really going to criticize his spelling as though it's a result of being a footballer? It only takes thirty seconds to do a Twitter search of "you're" and "your" to learn that being an athlete has absolutely nothing to do with an inability to grasp the basics of English. And yes, you will find grown men and women, university graduates even, who still commit that sin.

Then it's on to an attack on footballers' ego. Players, apparently, assume divinity. In the top flight "they're invariably fed a diet of Cristal, praise and lapdancers to the point where they believe they're gods." It goes on. "They're only gods if you think religious icons are badly brought up morons with a natural tendency towards violence, racism, spitting, sexual assault and spending too much time in front of the mirror."

Just stare at that sentence full of generalizations and stereotypes for a minute. Analyze it, love it; become one with it. Once you're done, realize how insane it is. This is the type of statement that a person who thinks that you only need to know one person of a specific kind to know them all. Our well-traveled writer comes off as the type of person who would tell you that all Irish are drunks and all Kenyans run marathons. That's who we're dealing with here.

Before the Mirror's star columnist goes on the old "they're paid too much, beauty in football is lost, blah blah blah" rant, he/she make another hilarious statement that needs attention. "Legally, contractually, logically and practically, what a player says - even if one came up with the means for world peace - doesn't matter a damn. Not to his agent, his manager, or his fans." I really wish our writer would inform the UN - who allowed Kevin-Prince Boateng to speak out against racism - about this. At least, let agents, who try to shut their clients up so they can receive more money through sales and sponsorship deals, know also.

While we have given this article and the secret writer who penned it too much attention, it's worth combating the idiotic belief that footballers aren't people and that their opinions don't matter. The football community is essentially a reflection of the larger world. It contains racists, alcoholics, doctors, philosophers, domestic abusers, absolutely dull midfielders, video game addicts (Pirlo), writers (David James), pyromaniacs, politicians, sado-masochists and Luis Suarez. To argue that their opinions do not matter is to say that the opinion of everyone in society does not matter.

To say that footballers are not intelligent when many of them are bi-lingual, are consistently rewarded for quick thinking on the pitch, and have degrees from acclaimed universities is to lean on vicious stereotyping rather than cogent thought. To come up with such a misguided absolute as "they're footballers because they can't be anything else" -- rather than they're footballers because they're better at a rewarding profession than everyone else -- is to reveal one's jealousy and infirmity mind. Many players play because the game offers an escape and a path to a better life, but most do so because they're just that damn good.

I know it's tempting to fall back on ancient stereotypes of athletes to cause controversy, but I guarantee that some critical thinking and judicious Googling would make everyone involved look far better. You know, the whole it's better to be thought a fool than....well you guys know the rest of that quote. "The Mirror" turns out to be a better reflection of the writer and its readers than the footballers attacked.

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