Saturday 11 September 2010

Public Interest or Gossip? The Wayne Rooney 'Sex Scandal'

Earlier today I watched a Wayne Rooney-less Manchester Utd throw away a two goal lead in injury time, allowing Everton to salvage a 3-3 draw.

Later on I heard that Alex Ferguson had chosen not to pick Rooney for today's game because of the abuse he would get from Everton fans.

Rooney always gets a load of stick when he returns to Everton, but he would have got even more abuse this time round, following the allegations in last week's News of the World, that he'd paid for sex with prostitutes, despite his wife Coleen being pregnant.

Personally it doesn't bother me. The story's not a huge shock, he's got previous form when it comes to these things. Most comments I've heard from football fans say they're not bothered about what he does in his private life.

So why is this such a huge story? Is it in the public interest or just gossip about other people's lives?
Early in the week, a friend at work sent me a link to an article by the Telegraph and former England Rugby Union star Brian Moore.

He was writing about the Wayne Rooney story which you should read here. After having a look at it, I decided I should write something myself.

I agree with Moore's point that footballers in England are burdened with a level of moral responsibility that at times is hard to understand.

If Rooney was a rock star, like a member of the Rolling Stones for arguments sake; it would still be a big story but there wouldn't be this level of moralising.

Lots of people have affairs and problems in their marriage but they still seem capable of performing in their day to day jobs. But when it comes to football we have to question whether Rooney is in the 'right state of mind' to play for England or whether he's a suitable role model.

If I was a footballer I'd resent this idea that I'm meant to this major role model for millions of young people into football. If you want to talk about role models, then people's parents are usually a good start.

Sections of the Press will argue it's right to expose this story because it's in the public interest; particularly when footballers take out super-injunctions in the courts preventing publication or discussion surrounding the issue in question.

I'm not a fan of the super-injunction as it is a threat to press freedom, but the Press undermine this argument when they use the 'public interest' defence for kiss and tell stories.

If you want an example of a true public interest story in recent years, then look at the MP expenses scandal. This story was brilliant as it exposed the corruption and wrong doing of this country's elected members of parliament.

Wayne Rooney or some other footballer sleeping with women who aren't their wives are not public interest stories - it's just gossip!

There's nothing wrong with a bit of gossip, I buy the News of the World every week. I admit I might be part of the problem as I help to create a market for this sort of thing. But the press need to be more honest with themselves and put things into perspective.

No comments:

Post a Comment