On May 15th this year, the footballing world was rocked by the revelation of another drugs cheat – it was announced that Jake Livermore of Hull City had tested positive for cocaine use; and on the eve of his return to his boyhood club, Tottenham Hotspur to boot.
Fans of the beautiful game were incensed – none more so than the supporters of Hull City. Social Media was alight with condemnation of his crass stupidity; and how – as a role model for many – he had let himself, his team and his sport down by a magnitude that words could not do justice.
Idiot! Prima donna! Waste of space! A disgrace! Fans called for his permanent suspension from the game, with accompanying hopes that such an obvious outcast would be met with only the harshest of punishments and treated like the pariah he had clearly become.
And then it all went quiet for months.
It was surely only a matter of time until the FA meted out their inevitable punishment on this scourge of the footballing world.
As time progressed, fans of Hull City were left to wonder why similar drug cheats had been sentenced – and indeed had since returned to their parent clubs to resurrect their playing careers. What about Jake, then? When would he get his hearing?
It has now been revealed that this young man had suffered pain that is thankfully unimaginable to many of us. He had to bury his first-born child. For reasons as yet unknown, Jake junior passed away not long after his team suffered defeat to Arsenal in the FA Cup Final.
Blessedly I cannot begin to imagine the darkness that must have enveloped the Livermore clan in the time since the tragic passing of their new-born baby. It is true that other people in similarly awful circumstances have managed to cope with the ensuing depression without recourse to recreational substances – legal or otherwise. But his salary and status as a professional athlete in the public eye are not factors by which to judge his coping strategy.
Laid bare for all to see is the tragic tale of a young man who simply didn’t cope very well. I am astounded and pleasantly surprised in equal measures that the FA have decided that punishment would be wholly inappropriate in this case. This was a cry for help and a bid to escape reality – not a devious means to enhance prowess.
The emphasis placed on support and rehabilitation by the FA and his club are to be commended, and my highest hope is that whenever he next enters the fray at the KC stadium his arrival onto the hallowed turf is met by glorious and ear-shattering roars of support from the fans.
What are your thoughts on the FA’s decision to concentrate on support rather than punishment? Why not let everyone know your position in the comments section below?
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