Italian Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli has become an infamous figure in the press since the end of last year when a rogue firework went off in the bathroom in his Cheshire home. Although he denies he had anything to do with it going off, there are still rumours speculating as to whether it was an accident, or his act of stupidity.
Since then, £100,000-a-week Balotelli has seemingly been on his best behaviour. He apparently put £200 into the mass collection tin at a church in Chorlton on Christmas Eve, checked 24 homeless people into The Hilton hotel in Manchester at New Year and today,( 17th January 2012), allegedly walked into the University of Manchester’s John Rylands Library and offered to pay off everyone’s library fines. John Rylands University Library rakes in thousands of pounds on library fines annually, with some High Demand books being charged at 50p per hour/part hour after the return deadline. Unfortunately for the students, the Library apparently refused his offer, leaving the students to pay off their own fees.
This leads to the issue regarding the amount of good deeds it takes to eradicate or at least reduce the impact of one silly or harmful deed. If Balotelli isn’t just doing this out the goodness of his heart, completely selfless acts that benefit only others, then he is surely just doing it to rectify his firework hiccough. Whether these are good deeds or not, however, there is no ignoring the fact that 21 year old Mario Barwuah Balotelli, of Palermo,Italy, is splashing the cash.
Whether this alleged act of goodwill is true or not, with his weekly wages being approximately three times as much as the annual salary of a teacher (tda.gov.uk), Balotelli can certainly afford to pay off the odd late book fee or two. But why is it that he can afford to do this? A few games of football, a few training sessions a week and a job that requires retirement at 30-odd and here he is able to swan around Manchester and hand out money in order to try and get people to forget his bonfire night blunder?
I’ve got nothing against Balotelli myself, in fact as a student I may have commended him on his fee-eradicating skills and he may even have, superficially, gone up in my estimations. However, what I do have a problem with, is simply the unarguable fact that football players get paid an ungodly amount of money for the amount of work they actually do with very little benefit for ordinary people. Obviously, compared to a doctor or police officer, footballers don’t even come close on the scale of their importance in our society, although you wouldn’t be able to tell this from their bank accounts.
I love football. I love the game and I follow my team Liverpool FC religously. Dare i say it, i even have a crush on some players! However, I have never been able to get over the simply astronomical annual salary figure that players like Steven Gerrard receive. Granted, many football players have put their money to good use and started up charities or donated huge sums of money to help people, but those donations are simply pennies in their pocket. They can live without it. In fact, they can live lives of luxury without even realising they had that money in the first place.
Where’s the justice? When some people risk their lives in the armed forces or on our streets as volunteers as Special constables in the Police every day, the whole footballing culture seems warped and misguided. Football causes riots, fights and prejudices. It also causes great pride, happiness and unity within communities; but for what price? Upwards from £30 a ticket for one of the top clubs? It seems expensive when it is – sorry everyone – just a game.