July 06, 2008

Harry to Galatasaray

Changing football clubs is normally something that football fans accept as part of life. Noone is neccessarily happy when they lose their best players- but whether its Cardiff City losing Ramsey this summer or Manchester United losing Ronaldo (if they do), it is something that happens to every football club and the alternative, that players would never move, would be a terrible idea. Equally though there are some transfers that just instantly strike you as wrong. Eight years ago, two Leeds fans were stabbed to death when the team travelled to Turkey to play Galatasaray in the UEFA cup, now one of the stars of that team has decided to move to Galatasaray. Harry Kewell in doing that has asked Leeds fans to move on and recognise the reality of modern football- that stars go where the money is, and that not to move would be to damage his career.

Well Kewell may argue that, and some of the more idiotic Leeds fans would definitely be wrong to take out reprisals upon the Australian forward. But it still doesn't alter the fact that what Kewell is doing is immoral. The fans of Galatasaray have not changed. Turkish football is still accompanied by unpleasant scenes and violence- for what is afterall only a game (anyone who says otherwise demonstrates that their idiocy is indeed authentic). There are two points here worth discussing: one is that morality still operates within the market. Just because someone offers you more money to do something, doesn't make that something right. It is an interesting thing to see, as soon as you do understand that principle, you can comprehend the fact that whenever a company performs an illegal or immoral act, those performing that act are culpable no less for the fact that they have been ordered to perform the act. Furthermore if corporate interest is not a moral defence, when it comes down to it ethics trumps economics.

But why is this immoral? Well Kewell is moving to a side whose fans murdered people who had gone to Turkey in order to support him and his teammates. The position of fans in football is often taken for granted and ignored- they are told to grow up and shut up, until it comes to season ticket sales and replica shirts. Kewell has made a lot of money off the fans who support his activity- no matter that there is no legal obligation or no economic obligation, there is a moral obligation for him to reciprocate their loyalty. Over years at Leeds, Kewell was supported and cheered by the Elland Road faithful. To go to a club where some of them were murdered, a club that has never acknowledged that murder, is to slap them in the face. To go to a traditional footballing rival is a decision that is absolutely fine- rivalries in football are not serious- but murder is serious. And if we consider that a player has reciprocal obligations to those that support his work, then he ought to avoid such a symbolic identification with those thugs that have in the past attacked the supporters who lauded him.

That this is immoral is beyond the question- Kewell shouldn't be banned from moving. Morality and law are different things in a liberal state. But that does not mean that he should not be condemned. The Australian has acted foolishly- and has acted in a way to demonstrate that money drives him, not consideration for others- like a corporate lawyer or a business man who makes their living from firing small people in order to replenish a good salary, Kewell has revealed himself to be longsighted enough to see the main chance, but blind to the moral judgements that he should be making.


Baht At said...

as a Leeds fan I have to say that Kewell is about as loyal as a pet dog offerred a sausage by a stranger.

James Hamilton said...

But surely - if you were to be consistent about this - it would be correspondingly immoral for any player at all to join Leeds, on the basis not only of the "Leeds on Trial" case but also on the basis of many years full-on racist violence from Leeds fans in particular? Why promote this particular act of murder, this particular transfer, especially as the two incidents are years apart? I don't understand.

Gracchi said...

James there is a sense in which you are right actually. Perhaps having my Leeds hat biasses me. I will rethink this and come back to it but there is something here that I want to get at- which is a kind of judgement that we should not abstain from under the excuse that x sphere of life is not moral.

Baht At said...

james it might be because Kewell himself clearly links to the two.