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Candid Cameras, Credit Cards and Codes of Conduct



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Codes of conduct are becoming all the rage in La Liga, where the immense wages paid to players (hence the bit on “credit cards” in the title, get it? ok I just wanted an excuse to extend the alliteration) have been used as an excuse to delve into the private lives of players, some of whose activities are proving rather ignominious for the clubs to whom they are attached.

Recently (Ed: May 2007), “candid camera” style program “aquí hay tomate” caught footage of Sergio Ramos urinating in the street, scoffing down hamburgers and sucking the face of an attractive blonde (all without washing his hands, in case you were wondering), and then there’s the case of one Royston Drenthe ploughing head-first into a police car at 4 am.

All of this is said to have played a role in Real Madrid president Ramon Calderón’s decision to personally present the players with a restrictive “code of conduct” during Friday’s training session. Van Nistelrooy might have been pleased to have an extra book to read, but many other players were rumoured to be less than happy.

Meanwhile, Frank Rijkaard’s job has been put into question not wholly because of results, but because he is said to be in constant conflict with president Joan Laporta over the “code of conduct” he last attempted to implement last season.

It is common knowledge that many of the senior Barça players are found wanting in terms of professionalism (Ronaldinho has been let off training, the whole Brazilian contingent of the squad are notorious partiers, many are womanizers and have dealings with prostitutes, even though Ronaldinho has sought to deny rumours of unprofessionalism in his latest interview with El Mundo Deportivo), and Rijkaard is blamed for not having the collons to get the squad to conform.

What do you think of all of this code of conduct business? I personally reckon it’s primarily a smoke-screen tactic, used by Laporta to cover up other failings and to shift the blame onto Rijkaard. But should a player be able to go days without training (Romario-style) and still be picked for the team?

Alternatively, do the players have a responsibility as role models to the youth of today?

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Hugo Steckelmacher has loved football since he can remember - indeed, his mother often jokes that he kicked so much as a baby due to his eagerness to get out of the womb and play football! Of German-Jewish descent, a rocky love-affair with Tottenham began at a young age, and his favourite players as a child were Nick Barmby and Gary Mabbutt. At the age of ten, he began to watch La Liga football and fell in love with the league and especially with the "juego bonito" of the two biggest clubs, Real Madrid and Barcelona. Now living in Barcelona, Hugo regularly [sic] writes on La Liga and Tottenham.