CAPE TOWN – There is Captain Tom Moore and then there is Emmanuel Adebayor and Mesut Ozil.
The 99-year-old captain, to whom this column was dedicated a week ago, has raised £28 million (R653m) in the last 10 days as he walks lengths of his garden every day, just a week out from his 100th birthday. He has asked for nothing and simply just given, of his energy, his time and his belief in his country’s National Health Service.
What a story of admiration and awe.
Flick the switch to Adebayor, who has been emphatic to the point of being crass that, for him, this time is all and only about him.
“I do what I want and eat what I want I don’t donate,” he said on social media.
The 36-year-old footballer, who played for Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham and Crystal Palace, insisted he would not help the fight against the coronavirus in his native Togo.
Other celebrated African footballing stars Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto’o have been prominent in raising funds and leading socially conscious efforts in Ivory Coast and Cameroon, respectively.
At a time when the world’s ordinary individual is looking to celebrities, be it in sport or arts, to inspire by way of action and to give of their immense wealth, many have refused to look beyond their own isolated bubble of indulgence, decadence and darkness.
Football players are among the wealthiest sporting individuals. Everything football-related is out of kilter. The global economy is in ruins, yet you have the transfer talk of clubs wanting to sign England and Tottenham striker Harry Kane for £200m.
People across the world are starving, but gifted footballers believe they can’t function daily without these inflated market salaries.
Arsenal and former German international Mesut Ozil has refused a 12.5% wage reduction, which would also help this club’s owners pay the average man and woman who works for Arsenal.
Ozil’s weekly wage is £350 000 (R8.4m), but he is one of three players who won’t agree to any form of sacrifice. I use the word sacrifice very sarcastically.
What astounded me was the former Tottenham striker Darren Bent branding as a “snake” the unnamed Arsenal player who “leaked” the news on Ozil’s refusal to take the most minor of salary cuts.
The world of sport is in unchartered territory, as is the world.
There has been no sport globally for the past month. The lack of sport has influenced broadcasting deals, sponsorships, match-day gate revenue and millions of jobs linked to sport.
The likes of Ozil and Adebayor disgust me. Their lack of perspective is appalling and both would benefit as men and as human beings from spending a minute in the company of Captain Tom.
This World War II veteran has asked for nothing and his only concern is that he wears a pair of comfy shoes before doing his daily garden laps in his continued walk to raise money for those health workers trying to save lives.
Then we get a football player who poses in front of his obscene structural palace that parades as a home, leaning on a car that costs millions, with the biggest of “F**k You” smiles.
It makes for a sickening visual.
Equally sickening in terms of bad taste was an English newspaper headline that screamed former England and Manchester United star Wayne Rooney “leads Derby players in a WAGE WAR as he tells club chiefs that squad will not accept a proposal to defer half of their pay”.
A wage war when players earning millions of rand weekly won’t accept a pay cut, despite not playing? An effing wage war?
Come on – the only war we find ourselves in is the one against Covid-19, some clearly more than others.
Keohane is an award-winning sports journalist and a regular contributor to Independent Media sport.
By Mark Keohane