Sporting world in shock after striker mutiny

Football star Carlos Tevez is reported to have disobeyed orders mid-game, breaching a multi-million pound contract with his club. He is highly talented, but is he 'poisoning' his team?

The world of professional football is in a state of shock. This week, in an unprecedented display of rebellion, one of the world’s highest paid footballers appears to have gone on strike halfway through a crucial match which his team were losing.

For Manchester City FC, the Champions League match against Bayern Munich was an opportunity to make a mark at the highest levels of the European game. City have never qualified for football’s premier competition before. Now, thanks to the extraordinary wealth of the club’s new owners, they have a chance to compete amongst the very best.

But Bayern, a club steeped in ancient and glorious sporting tradition, had no intention of surrendering easily to the rich English parvenus. At half time, City were two goals down. Soon, manager Roberto Mancini decided to bring on one of his star assets: the Argentinian forward Carlos Tevez, a man who – with a huge tally of goals and assists over the last two seasons – has done more than anyone to propel his club towards the top of the English league.

Short, strong and agile, Tevez is a player who can turn the tide of a game, inspiring other players with his dynamism and aggression. But that night in Munich, say the match reports, he refused to play ball. Tevez strongly denies this, but TV pictures show him sullenly rebuffing a City official, before sulking for the rest of the match like an overgrown infant on the substitutes’ bench. The score, meanwhile, remained two-nil in Bayern’s favour.

As a manager, Mancini is known for his calm and his tough exterior. This latest row with Tevez, however, left him shaking with visible fury. ‘Carlos cannot play with us,’ he told the press. ‘It is finished.’

For a club to sack a top-class goal-scorer – on a wage of around £250,000 per week – would be almost unheard of. But pundits rallied to support Mancini’s resolve. Liverpool legend Graeme Souness called Tevez ‘a bad apple’ and ‘a disgrace to football’. Veteran journalist James Lawton said the player was an ‘ingrate’ who was ‘poison’ to the City team.

Unforgivable?

The final decision over Tevez’s fate rests with City’s owners far off in Abu Dhabi. Given the extraordinary sums they are paying him, and his indisputable talent, they may be reluctant to let him go. Tevez, for all his faults, is a footballer of rare ability – a genuine star.

Mancini will argue, however, that no single player, however talented, should be allowed to take priority over the needs of the team. By refusing to play, Tevez showed disloyalty to his club, which pays him millions each year, and – worse – let down his fellow players. For many who love football, that is an unforgivable sin.

You Decide

  1. Should City forgive Tevez or give him the sack?
  2. People sometimes say: 'There's no "I" in "team"'. What does this mean? Is it true? Is it annoying?

Activities

  1. With a partner, act out an imagined post-match discussion between Carlos Tevez and Roberto Mancini.
  2. Are players too powerful in modern football? Examine the evidence and write a recommendation to the sport's governing body.

Some People Say...

“Footballers don't have to be nice – so long as they score goals.”

What do you think?

Q & A

How does having rich owners allow City to compete in the Champion's League?
The club has been given huge sums of money by the owners. That allows City to pay huge wages and fees to buy top players from all over the world. The City substitutes bench is more expensive than most football clubs' entire squads of players.
But money can't buy loyalty it seems?
Perhaps the exact opposite. The players who move to City are those who can be tempted away from other clubs with the offer of huge pay rises. Some argue that such players tend to be less loyal, and more concerned with their own egos than with team spirit. City have bought a dozen established stars, but they have yet to build a completely convincing team.

Word Watch

Champions League
The Champions League is the world's most important club football competition (the World Cup is between national teams rather than club teams). Only the top teams from each European league are allowed to compete.
Parvenu
A Johnny-come-lately or arriviste; someone who has newly acquired status and is resented by the old order.
Forward
Footballers, broadly speaking, can be divided into forwards, midfielders and defenders. Forwards are tasked with making incisive runs into attacking positions, and scoring goals.
Assists
Football leagues gather data on goals scored by each player, but also on assists. An assist is essentially a pass that leads directly to a goal being scored.
Pundits
A pundit is an expert commentator, from the Hindi word payndit, meaning 'wise man, master, teacher'.

Subjects

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