Amidst the howling madness from Sevconia, all intended to deflect from the very real need for the SFA to get a grip on the Colombian ned and sanction him in a way that genuinely sends a message, one of the constants has been that the media is in on the Grand Conspiracy to label him a cheat and a thug, as if his own actions don’t make that plain.
I’ve said this before; no player in Scottish football gets away with the stuff he does.
He has drifted through this whole season, until recently, like a someone with a Get Out Of Jail Free card tucked into his back pocket.
He has been sent off twice in a fortnight, and deserved it on both occasions.
The first time he could have been sent off long before he was, and only went into the book for the second offence after gesturing to the crowd. This time the gesture to the crowd comes after the red card, but it’s still there, and in the circumstances it was serious stuff.
Through the whole campaign, the media has focussed on how his discipline has improved because he hadn’t been sent off or suffered the number of bookings he had last time.
The last two weeks, since his red card at Motherwell, when it was clear this run of immunity had expired, has been a deluge of positive press, first blaming the Motherwell fans for the gesture he made at them and secondly trying to re-invent him as a paragon of virtue and kindness.
Gary Ralston’s article was a particular low-light in that campaign.
Today there’s yet another article in The Record praising Morelos’ off-field conduct.
The over-excited hack described as “beautiful” his decision to go back to Colombia and take part in a charity match rather than flying out with the rest of the Ibrox squad to Dubai. Except that this was organised a while ago and nobody has flown out to Dubai yet.
Morelos definitely has done a lot of work for charity.
He has definitely helped raise money for some of the people in his home town.
There’s a tradition of that amongst celebrities.
The Krays were big on the charity scene. John Gotti used to help out his local community. And in Colombia, the king of the barrio, who built schools and clinics and “worked tirelessly for the poor” and even ran for office on the back of it, none was bigger than Pablo Escobar.
The thing is, all of them cared. They genuinely did.
They cared about where they came from.
They gave a damn about the people in those places, in the same way that Morelos does.
There’s an exceptional New Yorker article called “Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, and the Cloak of Charity.”
It opens with a quite brilliant observation; “The great mystery of evil is not that it persists but, rather, that so many of its practitioners wish to do so while being thought of as saints.”
I am not calling Morelos a monster, but to assume that because he gives money to good causes – and actually does care about those causes – that he’s an angel of light is to blatantly ignore all those who’ve done the same but also harboured a great inner darkness.
The New Yorker piece throws up an interesting proposition;
“One view is that philanthropy can operate as a kind of penance mechanism,” it reads. “The individual who recognizes that he has done wrong attempts to make good in equal measure, to place a thumb on the scale of karma.”
You could also argue that Morelos is burnishing his name at home so as to facilitate his acceptance in the national team, as part of his career progression.
Not a bad strategy.
Yet whilst the media here lauds Morelos, the humanitarian, and publishes without contradiction save for the acid pen of Chris Sutton, Sevco’s mind-numbing excuse for that deplorable gesture at the weekend, the Colombian press has described the same thing as “a stain on his career” and speculate that it will have damaged his reputation across football.
What I’m saying is that all this sudden focus on his charity work doesn’t impress me in the slightest. He could mean all of it, or none of it, but his behaviour on a football pitch is often disgraceful and that’s the kind of stuff I write about, and what the governing body needs to focus on.
When it comes to Morelos, I agree with those who argue that there is a naked bias in the way he is covered by the Scottish press.
But I would suggest it goes in the opposite direction than some of them allege.
He is given a free ride.
They make excuses for him that other players would not get.
And lately the sycophancy of some of the coverage and the way it lends credence to ridiculous suggestions that he is discriminated against is a woeful indictment of the newspapers and outlets which run with it.
There are allegations that he was racially abused during the game; I want those investigated to the fullest possible extent and anyone involved in that behaviour tweezered out of the Celtic Park stands. It is not representative of our support or of Scottish football as a whole … and that’s my point.
The idea that vast swathes of the population, including managers, players, refs, pundits and fans are turning on Morelos out of a racist motivation … it’s absurd.
No-one should be seriously entertaining such an idea.
Yet Ralston wrote an entire piece based on it.
It is obvious that some of the hacks have been cowed by those running the Ibrox operation.
It is equally obvious that as long as he is scoring goals other parts of the media will worship him like a deity and make any excuse for him that they can.
Do not expect balance here, we’re not going to get it.
But this is what the rulebook exists for, it’s what the SFA disciplinary system exists for, to guarantee that the regulations are followed and that players who step out of line are punished.
Morelos deserves to be hauled up before the beaks for that gesture and hammered for it with a lengthy ban, and everything else is bullshit designed to muddy the waters and deflect from what clearly has to be done.
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