There’s a quite astounding comment attributed to a footballer who has managed to gain an injunction preventing the press reporting his off-field activities. No, not Ryan Giggs, the other one. Well, one of the other ones – it seems that there are plenty of footballers who are gaining injunctions to prevent it being reported that they’re more free-scoring off the pitch than on it.
This particular case is the footballer known as TSE. In the published decision, the judge has this to say:
In a witness statement made by him the man [TSE] states that the information in question has hitherto been private and explains the effect that he says that publication of this information would have if it were published. It would have a devastating effect on his marriage, on his wife and particularly their children. He states that it has become common for footballers whose private lives are exposed by the media to be booed during games and be the subject of cruel chants.
There are a couple of things here that really need to be said. Firstly, however unpleasant it may be to have your indiscretions plastered over the gutter press, the real “devastating effect” on TSE’s marriage is caused by the fact that he’s been having an affair. Call me old-fashioned if you like, but I happen to believe that if you make a promise to be faithful to someone, then you should be. And if you’re not, then you just have to hope your spouse is in the mood to be forgiving. Trying to hush it up through the courts is more likely to make things worse.
Secondly, being on the wrong end of terrace taunts is part and parcel of being a footballer. Harsh? Yes. But realistic, too. And is it really any worse to be on the receiving end of “You’re not secret any more” (allegedly sung at Ryan Giggs yesterday) than “You couldn’t score in a brothel”? (Or, in some cases, suggestions that scoring in a brothel is only too easy). Yes, fans enjoy taking the Australian lager out of players who have been caught with their pants down. Ask Ashley Cole. Or Wayne Rooney. But it blows over. Again, ask Ashley Cole or Wayne Rooney. Prolonging the agony via the courts is only going to make it worse.
I wrote a couple of days ago that I do have some sympathy for Ryan Giggs, given that he does seem to have been at least partly set up and a victim of his own naïveté as much as anything more serious. But that argument doesn’t apply here. TSE isn’t being blackmailed, or the victim of a kiss-and-tell. He and his co-injunction-seeker are two people who willingly and knowingly engaged in an adulterous relationship and now want to hush it up.
Fortunately for TSE, his season is over (unlike Ryan Giggs, who will almost certainly be playing in the Champions League final on Saturday). By the time it all kicks off again in August, the fans will have forgotten. But I doubt if his wife will, and I can’t imagine she’s going to be too pleased at the way things are panning out. I can only hope, for his sake, that she is the forgiving type.