By Hugh Doyle
I feel bad for Wayne Rooney. Maybe I’m biased as a United fan, but England’s all-time record goal-scorer seems to be getting a bad rap as of late. Firstly, for his early season form (which even I admit was dire) but more recently for his antics off the pitch.
If you haven’t heard, Rooney went for a drink at the team’s hotel bar with some teammates on the Saturday after England’s match with Scotland. At the same time, a wedding was taking place and the wedding party asked if they could take some photos with Rooney and others. They obliged by this point however Rooney was, as one source said so eloquently to The Sun “really s***faced”. The Sun then published these photos and Rooney has had to apologise to Gareth Southgate and some of the FA’s top brass.
But why should Rooney have to apologise? The FA says it’s because “England personnel have a responsibility to behave appropriately at all times”. Sure, that makes a bit of sense. England players are in the public eye and therefore can be role models. But really, always? Ultimately the reason this has kicked off is because Rooney was drinking at a hotel bar, got carried away while drinking with friends and someone from the wedding asked to take a few pictures. If the wedding wasn’t there then it’s unlikely we have ever known about this.
So really, is Rooney the culprit here or a victim of his own fame? I obviously don’t have the experience of being a celebrity but I think I’m allowed to make an assumption or two about being one. One that with the fortune and fame comes a lot of pressure from the public and two celebrities like to have a good time like us normal people. Then why not let celebrities, especially when under such pressure from the media and in Rooney’s case, disgruntled United fans like myself, have a good time? Rooney may be the England captain and therefore a role model for people around the globe nevertheless I think in this case he has been unfairly treated and scrutinised to such an extent by the media.
I could take this opportunity to question whether Rooney or footballers, in general, should be seen as role models. However, I don’t want to go down this path because I feel I would be flogging a dead horse since we ask this question every time some form of celebrity does something controversial (*cough*, Kim Kardashian) and yet they remain role models no matter what they do.
What I will say however is that this is one incident and Rooney has done a lot of work for charity, for example, he is aiming to raise five million pounds for charity in his testimonial year and having footballers as role models does at least promote exercise among young people.
What we should be questioning here is why this is a story. I’m not questioning the need for freedom of the press but almost the opposite. With the freedom given to the press, there is a responsibility to hold people to account and report the stories which affect people. However, with this story, if you can call it that, this hasn’t happened. Instead a few photos have led to an overreaction by the FA who have now banned England players from going out. Rooney has fallen victim to a new age of journalism which relies on social media and the number of clicks generated. It says a lot we know more about Rooney’s Saturday night than our own Brexit plans.