Yes I know, it’s hard to believe. Having captained Liverpool for many years and spending his entire 17 year old career at Anfield, the retired 40-year-old James Carragher spat out at a Manchester United fan and his 14 year old daughter last week.
Having been labelled as “Mr Liverpool” by former rival Frank Lampard, Carragher has always stood up for the crest. Although he has been involved in numerous battles over the years with the club’s mortal enemies, United, Carragher has never been reported for spitting.
Having made the career change from player to pundit, Carragher’s likable character and footballing expertise and insights earned him a place at Britain’s leading sports broadcaster Sky Sports. He and Gary Neville have been a joy to watch over the past few seasons. Never have I or anyone else not been thoroughly educated by watching the pair break down and analyse Premier League managers’ game plans and players’ various roles.
As a Liverpool fan, Carragher must have felt all the same frustrations felt by every other Liverpudlian. Whilst driving home after fulfilling his punditry duties for the weekend, Carragher was goaded and pestered by a Red Devil.
Every fan knows the feeling. You’re heartbroken at the result and the your mate (or in my case some United fan from school) starts poking fun at all your sensitive spots without giving you adequate time to put the loss into perspective.
Luckily for me, I am – at least for now – not a public figure. With mobile phones always at the ready, social media can ruin a footballer’s reputation in just one “moment of madness” as Carragher alluded to the incident in question. Most agitated fans would reply with vile language and in some extreme cases, a violent exchange. Never would you expect spitting to come into the question.
People seem to forget that as ugly an act as spitting is, it’s not as uncommon in football as people may think. Cristiano Ronaldo spat at Robbie Savage during United’s FA Cup triumph over Derby. Frank Rijkard also spat during the Netherlands clash with Germany in the 1990 World Cup.
Ronaldo is one of, if not the biggest footballing icon of all time, yet people don’t seem overly bothered about him spitting at his leisure. The five time Ballon D’Or winner wasn’t given a ban for the incident. Never once did Manchester United or any football preachers start to talk about him potentially losing his job following his pathetic actions.
What about Luis Suarez? He bit Branislav Ivanovic back in 2012. What’s worse, being spat at or bitten? Personally, as horrifying as it would be, I’d rather the former. Dissolving the Uruguayan’s contract was never a conversation had in the soap opera known as the British sports media.
Although parents may say that Carragher is putting out the wrong message to young fans, everybody deserves a second chance. I don’t think those same people would be as aggressive if a player of the club they support did the same thing.
What about the man who pestered Carragher and filmed him whilst driving. Not only is it illegal to drive while using your mobile phone, he also had his 14 year old daughter in the car. If anyone should be ashamed, it’s the United fan who initiated the exchange and drew the irresponsible reaction from the former England International. He put his child’s life at risk and hopefully will be fined for his teenage-like behaviour.
There are players who have spat at people and not been banned. Banning is a necessity when a player or coach steps out of line. Sky Sports have made the correct call suspending their pundit. He deserves to be punished but is also worthy of a chance to redeem himself.
Numerous former players and even the family affected by the incident have come out and publicly confirmed that releasing him of his duties permanently would be an undesirable outcome for everyone.
The fact the broadcasting company has only suspended him suggests that he will be appearing on our television screens come the 2018/2019 season.
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