Carlos Tevez heads South America’s revolting footballers
Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez was just one of a cluster of South American footballers to go on strike this season
Last year, Time magazine made ‘The Protester’ the subject of their iconic Person of the Year front cover.
It was a fair reflection of 12 months in which the self-immolation of a Tunisian fruit seller sparked the protests that toppled tyrants across northern Africa, and in which the ‘Occupy’ demonstrations sprung up around the world.
It seems that this season football has been determined to take part in the wave of dissent that swept across the globe, although perhaps not always with the same noble ideals.
While global protest has successfully demonstrated the strength of the individual when part of a collective, its footballing manifestation has all too often been about an individual attempting to disrupt a collective for their own egotistical aims.
Manchester City’s position at the top of the Premier League owes a lot to Sergio Aguero’s goals.
However, it is an Argentine striker of an entirely different nature that has seen the club rarely out of the media spotlight this season.
The Carlos Tevez saga, which saw the 28-year-old forward fall out with manager Roberto Mancini, and his subsequent unauthorized sojourn in South America has dominated the back pages, not to mention costing the forward an estimated £9.3m in wages, fines and lost bonuses.
While Tevez may have been the cover star of footballers on strike, for the time being he seems to have resolved his differences with City, and he is set to make his return for the reserves on Tuesday.
However, his mantle was taken up by fellow countryman Claudio Yacob who went on strike this weekend after being left out of the squad for his side’s next game.
The defensive midfielder, captain of Argentina’s Racing Club, has been far from impressive in recent performances and as a consequence veteran manager Alfio Basile dropped him from the squad for Sunday’s clash with Banfield.
Yacob, whose contract expires in the summer, looks almost certain not to add to his 142 appearances for La Academia.
He has in the past been linked with a move to Arsenal although this seems increasingly unlikely.
Wherever he ends up it looks set to be a sad end to his time at the only club of his career so far, and one which reflects badly both on him and football as a whole.
Going on strike is meant to be used as a well-considered last resort to solve a serious problem, not a petulant knee-jerk response to a minor slight, and Yacob has done nothing to improve the perception of many footballers as nothing more than spoilt children.
However, not all of this season’s South American striking footballers have been unjustified.
Peruvian players, sick of unpaid wages and their clubs failing to impose proper financial discipline, went on strike when their championship began two weeks ago.
It was was an example of protest as it should be with the players joining together to try to bring about a change that was in their collective interests.
Ultimately, given the enormous amount of passion and emotion in the game, it is no surprise and no bad thing that football and protest so often find themselves as team-mates.
However, as the sight of Liverpool’s players warming up wearing specially made Luis Suárez t-shirts proved in December, the best protests are ones that have been properly thought through.