England did not fail because their stars are spoilt and pampered. Material comfort does not lead to physical and spiritual degradation.

This post was written by Reuben Bard-Rosenberg on June 29, 2010
Posted Under: Football,Uncategorized

Today two red tops carried pictures of a couple of England players laughing, and expressed outrage that they could laugh at a moment such as this. Clearly if they had any respect for their fans and their country they would wait at least a week before cracking any jokes. Meanwhile one of the narratives to grip the country is that England failed to get very far because their players are too rich, spoiled and pampered. “Pampered Spoiled and Mutinous…” boomed one daily mail, “footballers now think they are bigger than their country”. According to the Express they are “pampered sloths”.

It all reminds me a bit of my dad  – a good lefty who unfortunately buys into some of the abundance is bad for you crap – telling me that the reason Pele got so good was that he trained without football boots. If this were the case you would think some other coaches and youth development schemes might have caught onto it. And the idea that England failed because their stars have too much cash and bling is equally wrongheaded. At the very least, it is difficult to reconcile with the piss poor performance of teams from Africa,with the exception of Ghana. It is also worth noting, after Germany gave England a footballing lesson, that the wages in the Bundesliga, though not as high as the premiership are comparably astronomical. Compared with the £1.3bn wage bill of the premiership, the Bundesliga  – which has slightly fewer clubs  – spent £684m. Does anybody really believe that somebody on 30k a week leads a substantially different lifestyle from somebody on 50k?

The idea that England’s players failed because they are pampered is in fact a logical extension of the old myth – put about by clergymen, Neitzche and many other dickheads – that suffering is good for you and makes you stronger. And in a period of enforced austerity, this kind of rhetoric really does need to be opposed.

Because the thing about the “austerity ethic” is that it might start at the top, but it soon gets projected onto those least able to afford cuts in their living standards. The “new age of austerity” might start with David Cameron et al. rebuffing a ministerial pay rise, but it ends with civil servants on 21k facing a real terms pay cut of nearly 7.5 per cent. In much the same way, Willie Walsh made a great show of giving up a months pay before attacking the pay, conditions and jobs of those earning far, far less. The fact we have a Tory  health minister who say that recessions can be good for you because people “eat less rich food” should alert us to how this “virtue in poverty” bollocks can be used to justify attacks on working people’s living standards.

Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see the wage packets of footballers being squeezed, but only so that their enormous earnings can be redistributed to ordinary people. And let us not think for a second that taking their money away will somehow improve their moral fiber, or indeed their ability to kick a ball.

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Reader Comments

Dave

On the subject of football, I think there’s a classic bit of arrogance in asking ‘why did England fail?’ before asking whether they actually failed at all. In fact, England aren’t such a strong footballing nation that they can always expect a performance better than this – it’s perfectly possible that the only explanation for England’s achievement (or lack of it) at this World Cup is that they’re suffering from a run of bad luck in the genetic lottery that’s responsible for the talent being there in the first place. If England can have a ‘Golden Generation’ – and no-one argues with that – then it’s equally likely that they will at some point have a generation of dross. If this was it, then qualifying comfortably for the World Cup, making it out of the group stage, and then going out to the first decent team they meet is quite a respectable result.

As far as the austerity thing goes, there’s certainly an argument that austerity breeds efficiency where possible. The problem is, as you say, that it can also lead to cuts where inappropriate – it’s not a good thing in and of itself, so much as a cause of re-examination of extravagance and waste.

One note, in regard to your mention of the civil service pay cuts – you equally need to consider whether in fact the 21k salary was justified in the first place. If not, and these are actually, say, minimum wage jobs, it’s hard to see why private sector minimum wagers should be subsidising public sector minimum wagers to such a great extent. I’d say that is an extreme example and seems unlikely, but my personal experience is that the minimum wage in the Civil Service is upwards of £10 an hour, regardless of how basic the job is. A few years back I worked as a temp audio typist for the civil service on £20+ per hour when similar jobs were paying ~£6 per hour.

#1 
Written By Dave on June 29th, 2010 @ 8:31 pm

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