Rooney and Gerrard pull out of TV show over backlash fears
In an obvious sign that the English players are fearful of a public tide of revolt following their poor World Cup campaign, both Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney have pulled out of a £16m football extravaganza which was to be held in O2’s London Arena.
The pair were due to be paid £500,000 each for the day’s work at the Arena but have declined the offer owing to the public’s anger at the English soccer team following their dismal performance in South Africa.
Didier Drogba, Cristiano Ronaldo, David Villa and Cesc Fabregas were due to appear alongside the English duo in a ‘skills test’, but the event has had to be postponed until next summer at least following the Englishmens’ cancellation.
The 'A:3K Challenge' was due to be covered live by ITV as part of their Saturday night entertainment and the event has agreed long-term deals with a number of sponsors.
The event was to include such varied skills challenges as shooting and dribbling, though the events were to be theatrically staged.
The enormous sums of money to be paid to the organisers drew widespread media attention to the event. It was said that the lavish sums were the only way the organizers could convince the football stars to interrupt their summer holidays as regular appearance fees would not suffice.
The players both said that it would be “inappropriate” to take part in the event following the national team’s exit from the World Cup.
Terry Byrne, David Beckham’s former manager, pioneered the event.