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The latest football news from 90 Minutes Online

The FA needs to stop doing FA

For many people Ronaldo’s smash in his two-day old £200,000 Ferrari has been a source of wry amusement. 

 

However, the lengthy history of footballers getting involved in a range of driving offences should really give the Football Association reason to get busy with some serious head-scratching. 

 

 

According to the FA’s website: “Football occupies a large position in the psyche of this country and The Football Association is certainly concerned about the image of the game and the importance of people within football acting responsibly.” 

 

Yet how can it make such a claim when it has done nothing to censure the chain of footballers who have been found guilty by courts of law.  

 

Some may argue that this is a non-footballing matter, that any “normal” worker would not expect to suffer disciplinary action at work for a driving offence committed outside or work time. But if the FA seriously believes that football occupies such a large position in the country’s psyche and that footballers are role models for kids, the number of high-profile incidents involving footballers and cars should lead to them developing some kind of disciplinary procedure. 

 

While the FA will chasten a player for swearing at a referee or sticking his finger up at rival-supporters, it doesn’t seem bothered that players are out posing a serious threat to people’s lives every weekend in their high-powered cars after going on benders paid for by their excessive wages. 

 

The amount of money that footballers are showered with is ludicrous and irresponsible. With young players amassing bank balances that make them immune from the troubles of everyday life, they will inevitably develop a sense of untouchability. 

 

Clubs in the championship are considering a salary cap in the face of the recession , and it is time the FA pulled its finger out and did something about over-paid players and their six-figure cars. 

 

Timeline 

 

January 2009

Cristiano Ronaldo wrote off his £200,000 Ferrari after crashing into a roadside barrier in a tunnel near Manchester Airport. He walked away from the scene uninjured, but may have trouble getting a new insurance deal. 

 

December 2008 

Jordan Robertson, on loan from Sheffield United to Southampton, killed a father-of-five on Christmas Day while apparently trying to change songs on his iPod in his Mercedes CLC 180 .

 

 

His loan agreement with Southampton had already finished, and he is currently on bail pending further inquiries. 

 

June 2008 

Former Plymouth Argyle goalkeeper Luke McCormick, was well-over the legal alcohol limit when he crashed his Range Rover into another car, causing the death of two brothers, aged eight and 10. 

 

 

He was found to have 74 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35.

 

 

His contract with Plymouth was cancelled by mutual consent a month after the crash and he was disqualified from driving for four years for causing death by dangerous driving.  

 

 

May 2008

The pathetic punishment handed out to Obafemi Martins for driving at 106mph in a 70mph zone caused outrage amongst road safety groups.

 

The Nigerian received six points on his license, a fine of £550 and had to pay costs of £400 for clocking up the speed in his £85,000 Porsche while driving to Newcastle airport.  His solicitor attempted to justify his actions by saying: "He was in danger of missing his flight, the only flight running that day."

 

A spokesman for the charity Brake said: "The justice system needs to ensure such a serious breach of the law is matched with a tough penalty."

 

Andrew Howard, head of road safety at the AA, said: "Speeding in excess of 100mph tends to trigger an instant ban.”

 

Northumbria Safer Roads Initiative’s Jeremy Forsberg said: "That kind of speeding is unacceptable. He should have been kicked off the road."

 

Disgustingly, District Judge Stephen Earl said: "We now hope to see you again on the pitch." 

 

December 2006 

Former Premiership footballer Steve Claridge was found guilty of dangerous driving after reaching speeds of around 100mph in "treacherous" conditions. 

 

The police officer who pulled Claridge over said he found him "jumping up and down on the hard shoulder, holding his crotch and acting like a child who is desperate to go to the toilet…in what I deemed to be an embarrassing action." 

 

Claridge told the court: "It wasn't the best bit of driving I have ever done but it wasn't dangerous." He also said he was driving "slightly in excess of 70mph", was trying to leave the motorway to find a toilet, and denied that it was raining at the time of the offence.

 

He was given a six-month suspended jail sentence for dangerous driving. He already had nine points on his license at the time of sentencing. 

 

January 2005 

Jermaine Pennant not only crashed while over the alcohol limit, but he did it in Ashley Cole’s car while serving a sixteen month driving ban, while uninsured, and then told police he was Ashley Cole. 

 

He was sentenced to ninety days in prison and then released on parole after 30. He then returned to play for Birmingham, while wearing an electronic tag. 

 

He is currently at Premiership leaders Liverpool and recently rejected an approach from Real Madrid as he deemed their offer of a €1.6m annual salary too low. 

 

November 2003 

Lee Hughes was jailed for six years and banned from driving for 10 for causing the death of a father-of-four by dangerous driving.

 

Hughes fled his £100,000 Mercedes and the scene of the crash and did not turn himself into the police for 36 hours. While on police bail he continued to be fielded by West Bromwich Albion, went on to finish the season as the club’s leading league scorer and helped the club to win promotion to the Premiership. West Brom terminated his contract after the verdict

 

While in prison Hughes turned out for his prison team Featherstone FC in the Stafforshire County Senior League. In June 2007, two months before leaving prison, he was reported to have signed a £1,800-a-week contract with Oldham Athletic. 

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