Charlie Webster - Does Marlon King deserve another chance in football?

10 December 2010 09:49
We seem to have this perception that footballers are made of something different to the rest of us. Or maybe some of them have the perception that they are made of something different.

Of course the vast majority are extremely talented and gifted in what they they do for a living. Unfortunately though, for some, their perception that they are different leads to illusions of grandeur, so much so that their morals go out of the window.

This week Marlon King lost his appeal against his conviction of assaulting a woman after she rejected his advances. I'm sure we are all familiar with the well publicised story and his comments of 'but I'm a millionaire.'

What he did was wrong and it provided the worst possible example you could set for young players trying to make their way in the game. It still begs the question of whether Coventry, his current club after being exiled from Wigan ,are bothered about this or not?

The Championship club are 5th at the moment and despite King's goal drought, he did score the winning penalty in their recent game against Middlesbrough. So is he judged in the dressing room or by the club? Or in football do you get more second chances than you would in other industries? Do the same rules we live by not apply?

I don't know many self respecting employers that would recruit a sex offender. Or maybe it's viewed as acceptable given the extreme pressure on teams to do whatever they like as long as you are getting the right results.

We all know that nobody's perfect and even footballers make mistakes but they have to realise that with their money and position there comes responsibility. A responsibility to the young people that look up to them, that aspire to be like them.

People like King should be encouraging the youth of today to pursue their dreams, work hard and show respect, and in this I mean respect to women as well as men. Some people may say he's served his time so it doesn't matter now and I actually remember reading an article that said he has just as much right as anybody else to get on with his life.

It may just be me but that piece massively annoyed me. What about the rights of the women he assaulted? Did they get a choice? Do they get a choice now when it comes back to haunt them - especially when King is in the public eye providing an ever present reminder?

After hearing the news that the striker's appeal had been lost I started thinking back to when Danny Wilson outcast Paulo di Canio for pushing the referee over on the pitch at his time at Sheffield Wednesday. Di Canio then moved to West Ham and Wednesday subsequently went down. If he'd have stayed, would Wednesday have retained their top-flight status?

Can you imagine Sir Alex Ferguson doing the same with Eric Cantona after the Frenchman famously Kung Fu kicked a fan in the chest? Sir Alex stuck by him. Is that moralistic or just very good management?

Then there's the examples of Joey Barton, Lee Bowyer, Jermaine Pennant and so on.Of course what Di Canio and Cantona did was wrong, but to me King's act of sexual assault and not for the first time either, is different. I wouldn't want him in my team or in my dressing room at half time.

So what comes first in football? Is it morals, the responsibility of the sport or what the fans want? Or have the results and the money well and truly taken over? As a football lover and as someone who was influenced by the game as a kid, I'd like to think that it hasn't completely gone that way.

I do a lot of work with the charity Women's Aid and have been recently working on a campaign with them called 'Real Man'. Maybe I should get Marlon King involved?


Source: DSG

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