Do we Expect Footballers to Hide their Futures from their Families?
What does Daniel Sturridge’s ban tell us about the relationship between the betting industry and football?
What do you do when you get good news? Do you call your parents? Maybe your significant other?
One thing that is near-universal to human beings is the will to share good news with those around us. When I got into university, I wanted to tell those who had invested in me and on whom I relied for support. Naturally, I sent a message to the family WhatsApp group.
Daniel Sturridge’s Ban and Betting in Football
In the news recently was a story about Daniel Sturridge being banned from football worldwide for 4 months after it was found out that his brother had placed bets on Sturridge’s potential transfer, informed by Sturridge himself. This ban was initially set at two weeks, but an FA appeal that claimed he was more culpable that the verdict suggested, as he had instructed his brother to bet, lengthened the ban.
In a video uploaded to his YouTube channel, Sturridge said that he was disappointed, arguing that players should be able to speak freely to their families without worrying about consequences. I have no access to the inner workings of that case, nor do I know how direct Sturridge’s words were to his brother that resulted in bets being placed illegally. It did, however, cause me to ask myself what we, as a football audience, expect of players when they are entering into transfer talks with clubs. Are they supposed to keep every detail a secret from everyone? If this is the standard forced on players, then it is clear that the betting industry’s influence on football has grown too large.
The FA’s rules on this state that a player cannot use information not publicly available that they have gained due to their position to bet on matches, competitions, or “any other matter related to football anywhere in the world,” citing a player transfer as an example of such a matter. They also may not “permit, cause or enable” anyone to bet with the information they have. Does telling someone that you are in talks with a club enable that person to bet on the transfer? Ultimately, one cannot control what people do with information that you give them. If a player was told that Real Madrid was interested, and they told their father, they have lost control of that information, and can no longer determine who has that knowledge. The fact that a footballer informing their family about their career can result in punishment does not sit comfortably.
The Grey Area Of Betting
Betting is, by nature, an activity done on things uncertain. Sport is a hotbed for the betting industry, as every weekend provides thousands of Schrödinger’s Boxes across the world, with limitless markets to be exploited and punters everywhere who stare into the opaque mystery and think it is a crystal ball. 22 individuals trying to emerge victorious provides the requisite unpredictability that betting needs. Match fixing is such a scandal because it threatens sport’s nature, which lies in the insecurity of the result.
It strikes me that player transfers simply are not in the same category of event. The player in question will know where he is going before any bookmaker does, as will their agent and the managers of the teams involved. Any one of these people could take advantage of this knowledge. More troubling, however, is the fact that a slip of the tongue from any of them and an act of someone completely out of the player’s control could result in their career and credibility in football being damaged.
Everyone has the right to share their news with their nearest and dearest, and footballers should not be any different. In an industry that rewards its players lavishly to uphold certain standards as role models and to be unwaveringly committed to their job, surely expecting a young footballer who has just heard news of a dream move to Manchester United to keep their mouth shut is a step too far.
The solution is simply to outlaw betting markets on player transfers or managerial moves. These are private matters for those people, and they have the right to seek support from their families and friends about their lives. Football should be protecting its players, rather than being loyal to companies who would crumble if football was not the behemoth that it is in the public consciousness today.
Is Sturridge Accountable, or Are We Pointing The Finger In The Wrong Direction?
Again, I am not saying that Daniel Sturridge did the right thing. It could be that he directly told his brother to bet on his move, making him deserving of the ban that he has received. I am also not saying that betting companies should remove player transfer markets so as to prevent pre-informed bets and preserve the profits of such firms, some of whom sit on the Mount Olympus of immoral businesses.
I fear that this problem comes from the wider issue of betting companies having a stranglehold on football. With clubs and leagues so reliant on the advertising and sponsorship revenue that comes from bookmakers, it is hard for the FA or Premier League to stand up and lobby for the rights of players. Football is being held ransom by the betting industry, with players and agents being gagged and threatened.
Betting companies are now going above and beyond to squeeze all they can from football fans, and it has arrived at a point where bets are being placed on events in people’s lives that come about from a long process. Players ought to be able to celebrate privately with their loved ones without fear of punishment, but the football industry is held ransom by the bookmakers that have been allowed to fatten it like a pig for carving.
We hope you enjoyed the article ‘Daniel Sturridge’s Ban and Betting in Football.’ Do you think Daniel Sturridge should be held accountable for his actions? Where does the onus lie on players and their relationship with betting? Let us know!
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