The distrust which exists between soccer stars and the media in Britain stems from a legacy of players’ addictions, violence, indiscretions and infidelity being exposed by newspapers, occasionally turning footballers into figures of ridicule and even hate. Wayne Rooney being a recent example. All of a sudden he’s a villain. Once loyal fans seem to have forgotten the joy and success he has brought in his career.
In Africa most scandals centre around money. South African officials allegedly bribing dignitaries to gain the honour of holding the World cup, long after it had been awarded to Morocco. In the 2013 African Cup of Nations match fixing and the banning (or not) of so called ineligible players from Equatorial Guinea and Cape Verde (who received different fates) made a mockery of who qualified for the final rounds and overshadowed the whole tournament.
We tend not to hear of the nocturnal escapades of African super-heroes after they have left our continent to play on foreign shores – notably Nigerian and Ivorian stars in Marseilles and London. We tend to think boys will be boys – as long as they do it on the park!
What has been a big scandal though is the increasing levels of age-fraud.
Players know they will get a better chance to progress if they can become ‘younger’ to be selected for an U-17 squad; and consequently tend to lie about their age to make access to big European money opportunities. Poverty and slum-living can drive players to desperate measures.
In Nigeria, particularly, fake agents identify talented kids and persuade their starry-eyed parents to part with money – often money they have been saving for their children’s education – to ‘fund’ phantom ‘trials’ with big Spanish or Italian clubs – producing all sorts of respectable photographic evidence (including videos) to back up their scams. Recently kids have been transported to Cape Verde and after a ‘trial’ watched by ‘reputable white managers’ are left in the hotel where they stay until they are turfed out for non-payment of bills. Kids are broken hearted and parents are broke.
Recently in countries like Senegal young soccer stars have been frightened out of their wits by evangelists who proclaim that playing football is the ‘game of the anti-Christ’ and playing it means certain eternal damnation.
The Zanzibar women’s national football team, nicknamed the “Zanzibar Queens”, is facing heavy criticism from religious leaders for playing in public while wearing shorts and jersey tops, instead of covering their bodies according to Muslim custom.
One member of the team divorced her husband because he tried to prohibit his wife from playing.
I say all this because given that there are so many options for reporters and other newshounds to sink their bloodthirsty teeth into why does should cross-dressing fascinate them so much. Their feeding frenzy was so intense it forced this young 18 year old international footballer back to the country of his birth. Just for dressing up as a girl.
I think there is something about cross-dressing and cross-dressers that touches a nerve somehow. Perhaps we need to explore that.
Meanwhile explore my book RED DRESS REVOLUTION, for sale on Kindle for 99p until this Saturday– if you want to know why Tiko finds cross-dressing so fascinating.