Last week England football captain John Terry and his band of legal suits failed to uphold a gagging order in an effort to prevent the media publishing revelations over his private life. It is being viewed by many as a victory for free speech and freedom of the press – bolstering the common thought that the media really are the fourth estate. Terry had initially used human rights laws to obtain the gagging order against the press, claiming his right to a ‘private and family life’. However, the claim was thrown out as the judge felt JT was more concerned about the threat to his lucrative sponsorship deals rather than the damage the scandal would do to his family life. I question whether athletes and celebrities should have the right to hide behind such a law in the first place. Is it not hypocritical to boast hero status on the pitch that earns multi-million pound sponorship deals only for us to find out that in reality they’re actually a bit of a bad egg?
Fundamentally the ruling is a heavy blow against the growth of the privacy law used by celebrity athletes to silence their critics and keep questionable etiquette under wraps. This could potentially open the floodgates for more skeletons to come pouring out the closet in the realm of professional sport and beyond. Some people would argue that the press shouldn’t be poking its nose into the private matters of celebrity sports stars at all. I reckon though you have to be prepared to accept that your life is going to be under the scrutiny of the media lense when you’re a high-calibare athlete and the removal of the privacy law will hopefully prompt a bit more sensible behaviour.
The parallels between this story and the Tiger Woods case are obvious although the news broke in very contrasting circumstances. As per Woods, Terry’s recently acquired family man image could lose him millions in commercial sponsorships as he faces the public embarrassment his playing away from home has caused. It will be interesting to see how he deals with the situation in the coming weeks. One thing he hasn’t done so far, unlike Woods, is shy away from the commitment to his professional career. However, if he’s dropped as England captain later this month, he may just take that ‘holiday’ permitted by his Chelsea coach.
Oh and finally, in terms of his social media, his official Facebook page is maintained through a third-party, The Professional Footballers’ Association’s Official Fan Page for John Terry which strictly focuses on football matters with no option for fan and foe interaction – just monolgue announcements instead. A big collective ‘booooo’ to that!