When I worked as a bar keep at a strip bar a stone’s throw from the Square Mile I never once saw any footballers enter the place. I spent my days serving an endless glut of bankers drinks they bought with money you gave them during the bailouts.
At the time there was another furore in the media about a footballer, Wayne Rooney, or maybe Jack Wilshire, acting like a moron whilst drunk. As a person who has on many occasions acted like a moron whilst drunk, and not faced the approbrium of the press, I started a surruptitious conversation with the other employees of the establishment with this question:
“How come there are so many stories about footballers being overpaid and over sexed, but barely any about bankers? One night in here and you could fill the press with dirty Banker stories for a year.”
Wayne Rooney might do stupid stuff whilst drunk, but at least he doesn’t profit from plundering foreign countries and occasionally risk total global economic collapse by turning the international money markets into an Aspers Casino every 15 years or so.
A Brazilian dancer, ‘Sandra’, answered, in Portuguese “because these punheteros(wankers) own the newspapers.”
Everyone who worked at the bar started laughing. The topic was quickly shut down by the bar owner. This was supposed to be an article with a title something along the lines of:
“The disdain the middle clas media shows for Footballers is a Class issue – they hate the fact working class kids are getting paid more than them.
That was my first attempt at a title for this article, and it is a succinct summation of my point. I’d expand and say the reason these writers don’t write the same salacious gumpf is partly because bankers are sort of just ‘normal workers’ like them, whereas footballers are ‘superstars’ and therefor fair game, as well as more interesting.
The second part, interest, is vitally important – because it is largely working class footballers generating that interest. The people who work in the media that reports on football are, on the whole, middle and upper class people. Bank of Mummy & Daddy, gap yah, super, duper “everybody I disagree with is literally hitler” Liberals.
The people who produce the product – that is to say, play the sport – are overwhelmingly Working Class. Their parents and families, their communities, will have had to invest in those kids that grew up to pull on the England shirt during this tournament.
Case in point, Raheem Sterling. As a kid he helped his mum clean toilets. He had to stay with his gran in Jamaica – a place where a greater %age of the population have Her Majesty the Queen of the British Commonwealth on their walls than do those on the British Isles – whilst said mother grafted them a corner of these islands to call their home.
As reported on the BBC Sport website:
“England winger Raheem Sterling says he no longer worries about the media “picking on him” because of his “bling” lifestyle.
Sterling, 23, has frequently found himself at the centre of attention throughout his career, most recently for a tattoo of a rifle on his leg.
That followed criticism for proposing to his girlfriend, purchasing clothes at high-street chain Primark, and even for buying his mother a house.
“Fifteen years ago, we were cleaning toilets and getting breakfast out of a vending machine,” says the Manchester City player of growing up in London with his mother and sister.
“There’s a perception in certain parts of the media that I love ‘bling’. A few years ago, I would let it get to me. But now, as long as my mum and my sister and my kids don’t have any stress, I’m good.”
In a piece for the Players’ Tribune, Sterling has spoken about being left with his grandparents in Jamaica while his mother came to England to work, helping his mum clean hotel toilets and his daughter’s love for former club Liverpool.”
Sterling isn’t alone in this. This treatment crosses race divides. This is ‘equal opportunity’ middle class prejudice – I would say outright disdain – for Working Class boys who earn more in a week than these Oxbridge, or Redbrick, or “went to a lower grade Uni and scraped a 2:1 after spending too much time slumming it in Stoke Newington doing dodgy coke on the 18 inheritance” brigade are managing to scratch on their own merits now the bank of “fuck off am I bailing you out again you cheeky spoilt little bastard, you can forget Christmas invitations this year” is permanently shut to them due to the aforementioned escapades.
I’m working Class. I’m a socialist. When you look at the money they generate, the working class footballers are actually arguably underpaid.
Yes, you read that correctly. They are underpaid. If footballers were to apply the socialist credo of “the workers owning the means of production” then the 22 players on the pitch and the staff that help them to attain the levels of performance they attain would be paid far more than they currently receive.
At present the single person who could be said to be getting paid the most would be Rupert Murdoch – and he doesn’t even work the fucking cameras.
Which brings me back to the media. In their heart of hearts those writers think they are worth just as much, if not more, than Raheem Sterling. They probably think they are cleverer than Raheem Sterling. On both counts life has proven them wrong on that, despite the comparativeley worlds apart starting positions these people and the footballers they write about came from, every football writer is writing about people who succeeded at something the writer almost always failed at.
Attaining their childhood dream.
The fact that overwhelmingly footballers come from the Working Classes demonstrates something profound about modern society – despite all their advantages of birth the privileged Classes, perhaps through the inherent lack of challenge that comes from being privileged, struggle to achieve the same levels of excellence their Working Class counterparts faced.
Well done England. Win one more game and you match Wales’ Semi Final run. Better that, and then we can talk about Football Coming Home. Being the fat kid wearing a David Seaman shirt in the valleys of Wales was not the coolest thing in the world to be, and I felt your pain as a tubby 11 year old back in 96. When it went to penalties tonight, and cut to Southgate, I had a horrible feeling England would fall short in a Penalty shootout again.
Thankfully they didn’t. And this time around, there’s no pesky Germans in the Semi Finals.
Good luck England.