Footballers just can’t seem to stay out of the headlines for the wrong reasons at the minute – or, well, ever.
Just after Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy found himself in hot water following a clash at a casino, news emerged that West Ham United forward Diafra Sakho was arrested on assault charges.
Another day, another set of footballers finding themselves in trouble for reasons that not only reflect badly on them, but also their clubs – but as has been shown time and time again, only the dispensable players find themselves seriously sanctioned by clubs.
Take the intriguing case at Leicester City. Video footage was of course leaked showing Vardy shouting racist abuse at an Asian man, who he called a ‘Jap’ in the clip, with the argument stemming from the man allegedly looking at Vardy’s cards.
The Foxes acted quickly, claiming they were investigating the incident, but given this is not the first time even this summer that Leicester City players have found themselves in trouble over racist abuse, it doesn’t bode well.
Former manager Nigel Pearson’s son James Pearson, along with Tom Hopper and Adam Smith all had their contracts terminated after the end of last season.
The three youngsters were let go following the video leaking online, with the club keen to protect their image and sponsorship links in the Far East.
The video, that they filmed themselves, featured racial slurs and sex acts, and occurred on the club’s end of season goodwill tour of Thailand – which just happens to be the birthplace of the owners.
It is also rumoured that the behaviour of James Pearson contributed to the sacking of his father ahead of the new season, with Pearson keeping the club in the Premier League against the odds, and despite having some high profile issues throughout the season, the manager hadn’t done too much wrong in the eyes of fans.
The question of if Jamie Vardy would face the same fate as the three youngsters was a complex one, but in reality, the outcome was always going to be the same.
A fine and a slap on the wrist from the FA – mainly because Jamie Vardy is more valuable to Leicester City and their hopes of staying in the Premier League for a second consecutive season than all three of the younger players put together.
Vardy played a huge role in keeping Leicester City in the Premier League last season, and looks like doing so again this term.
Last time out, The Foxes spent so much time at the bottom of the table that it seemed a certainty that they would be straight back down to the Championship, but they pulled off the Great Escape, with a huge turnaround in the last few weeks of the campaign to finish 14th. Vardy also signed a four year contract extension just last year.
He also opened up the scoring in their opening game of the 2015/16 season – in a comfortable 4-2 win over Sunderland, and his form, not to mention importance to the club easily explains the PR stunt of Vardy ‘apologising’ to their newest signing Shinji Okazaki.
It shows public remorse from Vardy, as well as unity within their club at a time of unrest.
But why is there one rule for one, and one rule for another?
If anything, Leicester City will demean their integrity for overlooking the Vardy incident, because let’s be honest, that’s exactly what they’ve done – but being in a state of transition, with a new manager, banning or sacking Vardy would’ve been big a blow, and was never going to happen.
Let’s not forget he is the footballing success story of the country – the man who was playing non league football just three years ago has firmly made his mark in the top flight.
As we have seen so many times before, if a player performs well on the field, rightly or wrongly, they’re likely to be excused for their behaviour off it.
Sakho hasn’t been suspended by West Ham.
He is, according to manager Slaven Bilic, training normally, and yes, there is a case of innocent until proven guilty, but he has been arrested and if he is subsequently charged, the Hammers need to think long and hard about the message they’re sending out to the public.
As long as you’re a decent player, you can apparently do what you want off the field.
Sunderland’s Adam Johnson had his own run in with the law last season, after he was arrested on suspicion of having sex with a girl who was underage.
He had initially been suspended by his club – with the ban then lifted after his bail was extended, coincidentally when Sunderland needed him the most to avoid the drop. He was able to play before the close of the season, making him chanting bait for opposing fans.
In any other job, especially a high profile one in a business, there would be a morality clause in the employment contract, which in the case of Sakho (should he be charged and found guilty) and Vardy, would have been breached, and should lead to their dismissal. In football however, there is no chance of that happening.
Managers frown upon a player like Mario Balotelli scoring an own goal in training more than they do a player who is performing on the field but being a disgrace off it. That has been shown time and time again, and does not look set to change anytime soon.