News that 3 young men including 2 English professional footballers have been arrested in Ibiza for alleged sexual aggression is sad but sadly not unsurprising.
It’s a tragic story and no matter what the eventual outcome, the damage has already been done. Every parents nightmare, the alleged victim going through hell and fledgling careers lying in ruins.
It’s a snapshot of the 21st century where pro footballers from all leagues are put on pedestals and treated with reverence whilst being paid exorbitant sums of money to kick a leather ball around a green field.
Here in Ibiza we get an influx of footballers from middle May to late June. They come from teams from all over the world, attracted by the bright lights and promise of a hedonistic paradise. They come in their droves, world superstars like Messi and Ronaldo who love the island so much they have bought or want to buy hotels over here. The lower league journeymen also love to experience the white isle as well as the young professionals just starting out in the unforgiving world of professional football.
As in all walks of life, everyone is different. The superstars have their big entourages, the journeymen bring their wives and/or families but it is the young impressionable players who usually end up in trouble as we have witnessed here this last week.
Out of the bubble of the kindergarten that is modern day professional football where players are told where to be, what to do, what to eat and how to conduct themselves, Ibiza must be like a big playground with no parents or coaches to order you around while the hangers on who love a bit of reflected glory facilitate free entry to clubs and the availability of anything at any time.
While the superstars charter the superyachts the young lads from the lower leagues hang around the bars of San Antonio and Playa den Bossa cashing in on what little bit of fame they possess, 16 appearances for a league 2 club can be major currency if used effectively.
When word goes out that the footballers are in town, a procession of reality TV obsessed youngsters are paraded past. Which self respecting teenager doesn’t want a footballer on their instagram feed, just imagine how many likes that photo will get. Ibiza + Footballer = social media gold.
Young footballers are on holiday and away from the pressures of profesional sport so are entitled to let off steam without being bothered too much. The problem is that in the age of the smartphone they won’t get any peace or quiet unless they are holed up in a private villa and what’s the fun in that for a young lad?
Their favourite hangouts of Ocean Beach, Blue Marlin and Ushuaia are full of eager hangers on who will facilitate almost anything. This is where the danger starts and a young lad can sometimes get his head turned in an ‘anything goes’ environment.
Of course there’s no harm in a bit of fun but all of a sudden with too much indulgence taking place, things can get serious very quickly: You can do what you want in Ibiza after all? Well actually no!
It’s important to remember that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, there’s always 3 sides to every story but this sad episode has already claimed its victims. Parents blaming themselves for giving their young girls too much slack, the alleged victim and her friend who were having fun until it wasn’t funny anymore and will no doubt blame themselves for getting into the situation, not to mention the trauma that will stay with them for a long time to come.
Whatever the outcome of the legal process the young footballers will now be tarnished forever, their club playing damage limitation, their parents dreams in tatters and all the while, Ibiza gets dragged through the press, guilty by association.
Justice will be served but the process in Spain can be slow but this story should be a warning for all young football players and all of those who come with them. Fun in the sun is fine but never cross the line, 16 appearances for any team doesn’t give anyone the right to act disrespectfully or unlawfully, especially to the impressionable hangers on who are often too young and naive to know any better.