The Battle on and off the Pitch
Soldiers protect us from evil; footballers kick a ball about a field for our entertainment. Who should we reward?
Jennifer Anne Glenn
As a soldier is about to cross the front line to face their enemy in a brutal war zone for very little money, somewhere else in the world, at the same time a footballer stumbles from the dugout to play a game, what’s their greatest fear? Ruining their hair? They can certainly afford to fix it, can’t they?
Anyone who has had a member of their family in the army, or knows someone who has had to go and fight in a war, will understand the terror of waking up, night after night, following nightmares of their brave loved one returning home to them in a box. How many of us actually know what it is like to be a new recruit, to be someone who is stepping into the army for the first time? Let’s look at the positives of joining the army; you have the chance to meet new people, work mates will become best friends, a second family. You would be heading towards extremely dangerous, difficult situations but you are all going through it together and you will have each other’s support, a strong and powerful bond is created amongst co-workers, something that you possibly will never have experienced before, as these new friends will be prepared to die for each other. Reality persuades us to expect a new soldier’s life to carry on being this wonderful. When a young person of the age of sixteen or eighteen signs up to join the army, he first has to undergo boot camp, and that is as glamorous as it sounds. Boot camp can vary depending on job choice, but an average soldier’s training takes thirteen weeks. I repeat thirteen weeks prepare to fight in a war zone. Consequently boot camp is not a holiday camp, the men must be up at five am sharp working throughout the day until half nine at night when lights go out. All young men have to undergo a vigorous and heavy physical test which involves 13 push ups, 17 sit ups, run a distance of one mile in less than eight and a half minutes.
Now consider a new footballer’s pay. We are frequently being told the sporting world suffers from money problems: Manchester United has fallen into huge debt problems. A young footballer is also paid a full salary at the age of eighteen; however they can be paid up to £25.6million, when a young soldier is paid only £16,230. A young seventeen year old who has been placed on the books of a Premier League side, is provided with an astonishing £40,000 a year when minimum wage for an eighteen year old would be £3.68 an hour and someone who is on an apprenticeship would get £2.60 as well! If a soldier’s room is not as clean as their superior demands, than they purposely make his room messy, allowing the soldier ten minutes to tidy his room. If a young footballer does not receive their hefty wage pocket, but they are provided with top of the range equipment every time they play.
It would be wrong to deny that many footballers are talented. We cannot ignore that David Beckham has some incredible achievements to his name, having broken some immense records such as winning the Premiership League title six times and the FA cup twice. Yet there is no moral out cry about footballers vast wages and their outages way of living, we seem to think it is acceptable that footballers to live a gluttonous life while soldier’s dig up their own homes.
Soldiers live in such appalling circumstances on the frontline; Private Lee Byran Holmes who has been serving in Afghanistan demonstrated to us how he and his comrades have had to build their own living space. We see footage of a young soldier on his knees, digging vigorously into solid ground that stands in his way like the enemy he is fighting. Sour sweat stains the soldier’s already dirty face as he crouches low in the scorching heat, the sun cruelly whipping his back as he digs up his new home.
A footballer’s typical day of training starts at 10:30am, the complete opposite of a soldier who is up at the five in the morning. A footballer is treated to luxurious breakfast while a soldier lives on a twenty four hour ration packs. At the end of a not so hard day of training, a footballer finishes at two o’clock in the afternoon, and they are able to retire to a comfortable, cosy hotel. However, Carlos Tevez threw a little strop because he didn’t want to play a football match because he was put on a substitute bench, so he had a temper tantrum and refused point blank to take part in the warm up before the match. Tevez was charged almost £1.2million for failing to warm up; is this the beginning of footballers being punished and treated like normal people?
‘Wounded Warrior Project’ strives to provide the chance for wounded soldiers to get their lives back on track by helping them through a Physical Recovery system to a Combat Stress Recovery System. However, despite all of this support a young soldier called, Carl Clowes lies limp and lifeless on a stretcher, his eyes flickering violently as life’s hands barely grip onto him. His clothes are stained with his own blood; a poppy bruise sits on his eye like a medal for his bravery. Fresh blood trickles from a corpse like limb stanched and bandaged by medics. He’s lost a leg on a road side bomb. Carl was awarded £13,000 as compensation. The pain in his leg become increasingly worse, and so the Veteran Agency provided a further £48,000 but now the agency is demanding that he must pay back the money, he even received a letter telling him that he did not deserve the money.
Footballer’s little secret to so much money is that they have found a very useful loop hole that allows them to practically skip past the taxman allowing them to save millions of pounds if they manage to avoid the HM Revenue and Customs, Wayne Rooney has to only pay 28p in corporation tax instead of 50p. Every day, we are bombarded with adverts of footballers posing and preening for commercial projects, which earn them millions. This is known as image rights. This provides many footballers with elcome funds for their already bulging pockets. Basically, if you are a household name then apparently you are entitled to earn money to have control over how people use your name/image without exploiting you.
Wayne Rooney, famously known for spending a night with a prostitute while his wife was pregnant, has recently become one the world’s highest paid men to kick a ball around a field. He earns a hungry £250,000 a week. The funny thing is, most people would be happy with this sort of money rolling in, but clearly this was not enough for Rooney. He referred to his own football team as ‘lacking ambition’, after he threw his diva strop, Manchester United Football team provide him with a new contract worth £65 million, increasing his yearly allowance to £8.5 million.
Despite the government always reminding us we are in economic crisis, using this to justify making horrendous cut backs, they refuse to attempt to regulate footballer’s wages. They still insist on feeding a footballer’s wild hunger for money. It appears that if money was food, footballers would be obese. Our sports minister Hugh Robertson refers to the ever increasing wages of footballers as "very worrying", yet he contradicts himself by telling us that the Government should not do anything to sort this out. He believes it would be wrong to force Premier League clubs to cut spending on player wages. Reports have shown that footballer’s wages has risen by 11% to £1.3billion overall.
A soldier’s job is filled with much danger and horror; they risk their lives nearly enough every day, for the measly wages they earn. As a former Platoon Commander says, ‘"When they first join at 16 or 17, it's maybe the first time they've earned a wage - they think the money is fine," he says. "But when they join a regiment their priorities change - they get girlfriends and start to think about buying a house, starting a family and so on. And it's very difficult for them.’’ The Prime Minister said he will, ‘do everything in their power,’ to improve this. But will the Government really do anything about it?
So when a parent is bragging about how their precious little footballer managed to kick a ball into a net, another parent somewhere is maybe telling the story of how her child fought for their country and for the lives of others. Maybe even grieving. Is that right?