Premier League`s "bad boys" come back to haunt England

By Dattaraj Thaly | Last Updated: Saturday, June 21, 2014 - 09:26
 
Dattaraj Thaly  

England are on the brink of making a premature exit at yet another major football event. Every two years, it is the same story. You have to feel sorry for the England fans. Throughout the year, week-in and week-out, their domestic league is the toast of every town. A league that throws up talent and has given birth to many heroes.

Sadly, England, who should actually be the major beneficiaries of a strong domestic league, end up being ousted at major football tournaments with relative ease by opponents. The massive influx of foreign players each year to the Premier League is well documented. These players come from a different league, different culture and different weather. They have no choice but to adapt to the extreme changes and after successfully doing so, turn into superior footballers.

Another aspect of playing in the Premier League is having to deal with the hostile press. Two foreign players who were clearly on the receiving end of the ire of the British press were Mario Balotelli and Luis Suarez. Both have repeatedly expressed their anguish at being portrayed as "villains" by the British media.

Players like Mario Balotelli and Luis Suarez find it extremely hard to deal with this aspect of playing in England. Their upbringing being both very difficult and different may be one reason why they have never managed to play by the rules of England`s press. Suarez has grown up playing on the streets of Salto in Uruguay, hence his approach to football is very raw and aggressive. Because that is what it took for him to survive in that neighborhood. He will do whatever it takes to get the ball at his feet. That is his natural instinct, an instinct from the street.

Mario Balotelli`s troubles as a child are well documented. He was fostered when he was three and has suffered life-threatening illness. He was a moody young man when he came to England. He still is. Like most young men, he too has a penchant for the good life. And in him, the British media found the perfect poster boy for the tabloid entertainment. He was constantly photographed, at times ridiculed and mostly harassed (in his own words) by them. Hence he famously displayed a message on his shirt after scoring at Old Trafford that said "Why Always Me?".

Fast forward to the 2014 FIFA World Cup, both the "bad boys" of the Premier League have made sure England have one leg out of the exit door in Brazil. Balotelli`s devastating header to seal a 2-1 win in Manaus initiated the implosion of the "Three Lions" and a Luis Suarez double in Sao Paulo gave that initiation an impetus.

Mario Balotelli`s celebration after the final whistle said it all. He winked at the camera, flashed a 2-1 sign with his fingers and then swiftly put his finger on his lips to ask his detractors to shut up. This was no different from Suarez`s celebration after his second goal as he too put his finger on his lips conveying a message no different from that of the Italian.

The narrative of both their post match comments was about proving a point and silencing their critics. A sense of victimhood persists in them which has been fueled by their time in England. The two "villains" of the Premier League will not be vilified by the press this time as they will now have their knives out for one of their own.



First Published: Friday, June 20, 2014 - 18:22

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