The Ugly Side of the Game

On Sunday 30th January 2022, the football world was made aware of the gruesome acts of Manchester United footballer, Mason Greenwood, when his long-term girlfriend Harriet Robson was supposedly hacked and graphic images and audios were posted on her Instagram story. This news took the football world by storm and caused unimaginable outrage on social media among Old Trafford faithful in particular. Greenwood was the apple of the eyes of most Manchester United fans but not even this saved him from scathing remarks and calls for his head. The saddest part is that this is not even the first player to be exposed as an abusive partner and this begs the question, does football culture promote or protect even the vilest players?

Some of the pictures in Harriet’s story were dated almost two years ago. So it’s a big possibility that nights when Greenwood saved our team from defeat and was widely celebrated and praised, he went home and assaulted his girlfriend. It’s even worse to imagine that some of those pictures were dated when he was 18 years old which again brings up the discussion about promoting young players to first-team early and letting their heads get too big. This is not even Greenwood’s first controversial case. We can’t forget the Icelandic girls or the balloon case but none of us thought him capable of such.

As much as the priority has to be given to the victim, we must also speak up about the safety net footballers are given for bad behavior. It’s so shocking to see people still defend Greenwood not even based on the actual case but because ‘he’s just a kid’ and ‘he still has his career ahead of him’ This culture has been perpetuated even in the times of Ryan Giggs who to date is hailed for his on-field exploits as if he didn’t exploit women in his free time. There needs to be a whole reset and it starts by holding players like Greenwood accountable. I hope that a fair investigation can be carried out and the girlfriend can get the justice she deserves. It’s sad to see his career over but talent without character is nothing.

This should be a rude awakening to the football world that a player with a wicked left foot can also have a wicked heart. It should be a lesson to stop identifying ourselves with these people and keep our admiration down to the football alone. It should be a lesson to other footballers that they are not above the law and have a duty to themselves, their clubs, and their fans to be at the very least decent human beings. All I can hope for is that this conversation continues and that it doesn’t get swept under the rug. And as much as Greenwood has done some awful things, I just hope he gets counsel in a just way because after all, he is twenty. Whether that’s in prison or not.

As for the Manchester United number 11 shirt, I don’t know what kind of exorcism can be done to cleanse that shirt but it’s needed. Do questions also have to be asked of Manchester United itself? Is it possible that they knew? Is it possible that they covered it up to protect their brand?  This is a very complex investigation that is only at its genesis. But with United’s history, I believe they should be investigated as well. Such cases make football itself seem so trivial, as they should, but it still hurts to see the beautiful game so polluted by heinous crimes. All I can hope for now is that it calls comes to light and the victim can be protected while also preventing future occurrences of abuse.