Who would have thought kissing a badge on a football shirt would create so much media attention? Wayne Rooney has seen pictures of himself all over the tabloids over the past few days, all with United’s crest in his grip, his mouth pressed up against it, and a cheeky glint in his eyes.
After being booked for pulling out of a challenge with Mikel Arteta, the Everton fans were extremely excitable. “You fat bastard!” they chanted, jeering and shouting at their former boy wonder.
So, how did Rooney respond? Put his head down and ignore it? Or did he opt for a more fiery, hot-headed approach by sticking his fingers up at them or hurling abuse? Neither. He kissed the badge of his new club and held his finger in air as number one.
Reports suggested that Rooney was going to be up for a FA charge for inciting the ground, similar to the punishment handed to Gary Neville after celebrating Rio’s last minute winner.
What depressing stage are we in football that a player could be punished for kissing a badge on a shirt? There was no charging or shouting like Neville (not that I agree Gary should have been fined), rather just a simple gesture. Players kiss the badge of their club on a weekly basis, sadly, so why should Rooney doing it be treated any differently? The fact that the FA thought twice about punishing our player is ridiculous to me.
If Everton fans are so wild, that witnessing a kiss of the United badge incites them to such an alarming level, then surely the FA need to take a long hard look at them. Don’t forget, scores of them were arrested when Rooney first returned to Goodison Park, highlighting what effect he has on them.
I enjoy the interaction between player and fan though, and I think it’s important we don’t rule these elements out of the game. Soon, there will be no difference between watching the games at home on the television or at the grounds, and this is something the FA would be encouraging by punishing players for doing what Rooney did.
The FA have confirmed that the case won’t be investigated further, stating the reason that referee Alan Wiley dealt with it at the time, by having a word, meant no further study of the footage was needed. So, does this mean if Wiley hadn’t spoken to Rooney, he’d be up on an FA charge now? Is there where we’ve got to and where do we draw the line? Where is the distinction between inciting the crowd and celebrating a goal or showing allegiance to you team?
The downward spiral of football continues…