The stench of hypocrisy drifts its noisome way around the decision to ban Leeds United’s Jordan Stevens “from all football related activities” for the heinous crime of placing bets. The ban, along with a £1,200 fine, prevents young Stevens from training or associating with the club for what amounts to 6 weeks in purdah. This is a young man who acknowledges that he has broken a rule, but who is suffering from boredom and home-sickness, two well-known factors in driving many a young person temporarily off the rails.
So what’s the solution? Why, to separate Stevens from the source of his professional development and day to day occupation, and this at a time when Marvin Sordell, a former professional footballer who campaigns on mental health issues, is calling on the FA to do more for young players this afflicted. To isolate Stevens at this time, when he feels this way, is like pouring oil on a wildfire in the hope that it may be extinguished.
And the hypocrisy gets worse. As United fan James Levy points out on Twitter “Player done for gambling who plays for 32Red sponsored club, playing in SkyBet sponsored division, where televised games have commercials for Bet365 before and during the match. And the player is the one with the gambling problem!”.
We must surely be getting used now to disproportionate and ridiculous penalties being handed down, whenever any transgression is accompanied by a Leeds United affiliation on the part of the offender. But that doesn’t mean we have to like it, or take it meekly without protest. The football authorities are bang to rights here on imposing a ridiculously inappropriate and draconian penalty, when surely a mere playing ban would have sufficed, allowing Jordan to continue under the guidance and support of the club. Instead, he’s been cut off from all that, and left to paddle his own canoe at a time when a more constructive approach would have yielded positive benefits as well as teaching the same lesson. What lesson does this teach Jordan, or indeed any of us? How much respect can we now have for such an arrogant and uncaring ruling body?
The answer is the same as Boris Johnson‘s record as PM in Commons votes – a big, fat ZERO.