Tiger Woods doesn’t play soccer. Some could argue right now that he doesn’t play much quality golf these days either.
He has been to football matches, however. I’ve seen him at Stamford Bridge, enjoying the hospitality of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich who is no longer one of the three richest men in Russia just in case you are interested in such things.
Woods has also made a series of television advertisements for a razor blade company with one Thierry Henry, well known to Irish Voice readers as a French cheat and now living among you in the Big Apple.
In the past, this column has made reference to the vulgarities of the lifestyles enjoyed by said Tiger Woods and another one of those role models for modern youth, Wayne Rooney.
Both are womanizers who have swapped morality for the cheap thrills of extra marital affairs, and both have continued to be well rewarded by various sponsors despite all their infidelities.
Both also continue to enjoy the infatuation of a world public that always wants to know what they are going to do next and will pay for the privilege, no matter how low their morals stoop.
We saw both sides of this particular coin over the past weekend when Tiger was paid well over $2 million to turn up a golf tournament in Dubai, and Rooney scored a goal worth a whole lot more to his Manchester United employers.
Let’s get the gory story out of the way first. Woods didn’t win the big golf tournament in the Middle East that he was paid so lavishly to grace with his presence.
Woods, joint 20th for his second worst European Tour event finish ever, didn’t even get close to the Spaniard Alvaro Quiros who went home a whole lot richer after desert storming through the field on Sunday afternoon.
The 2011 Dubai Desert Classic will always be linked with Tiger, however, after his latest act of low life idiocy when he spat on the 15th green during his final round and was caught doing so by the Sky Sports cameras.
It wasn’t the first time the cameras had caught Woods spitting during the four-day tournament, but it did result in a fine and a slap across the wrist from the European Tour for the former number one.
As the commentator Ewan Murray pointed out, someone may well have had to mark their ball on the very spot where Tiger’s heavy duty saliva had landed! Imagine the horror of that.
What’s worse, in my mind, was the fact that Woods didn’t apologize for the incident until it became big new across the Internet.
Nor did he endear himself to the locals by refusing to sign autographs for local kids on more than one occasion, some of whose fathers had stumped up for the ridiculously large appearance fee he commanded.
An apology was eventually forthcoming -- via Twitter -- but not before Woods’ knuckles had been well and truly rapped.
As crass sporting behavior goes, it did take the biscuit, but thankfully fellow miscreant Rooney reminded us all in the same weekend just why sport at the highest level is so special and so endearing.
Rooney didn’t just score the goal that decided the Manchester derby and secured a 2-1 win for United over City on Saturday afternoon. He also scored the goal of a lifetime.
The City boss Roberto Mancini said he had no choice but to applaud the wonder of Rooney’s brilliantly executed bicycle kick.
The Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson said, “I have never seen a goal like it in my life. It was absolutely magnificent.”
And it was absolutely magnificent. Rooney may never score another goal like it for the rest of his life. He might never score another goal again.
That won’t matter because for those fleeting few seconds on Saturday, Wayne Rooney did what Wayne Rooney was brought into this world to do -- he hit a football like no one else on Planet Earth can hit a football.
For the rest of his playing career, people will pay good money to see if Rooney can score that goal again. For the rest of his natural life they will talk about it.
That’s what makes him special. That’s why we can forget about the other women and the affairs and the prostitutes.
For a few brief seconds last weekend, Wayne Rooney played football like a God, and everything else in his life was totally irrelevant.
He could have spat on the Old Trafford ground in the immediate aftermath of that goal and chances are no one would have even noticed.
Tiger take note. Perform like a world class sportsman at the highest level and you can pretty much get away with anything.
Play like a prat and act like a prat and the whole world will knock you back.
SOCCER: A recent conference for sports media in South Korea was dominated by talk of the dangers facing professional sport from organized and illegal gambling syndicates. I know this because the Irish delegate to the conference, the great Jimmy Magee, told me all about it at the Carling Nations Cup last week. Interesting to note then that FIFA are now investigating two friendly internationals played in the Turkish city of Antalya last week when Bulgaria drew 2-2 with Estonia and Latvia beat Bolivia 2-1. What has caught FIFA’s attention is the fact that all seven goals on the day were scored from the penalty spot. And yes, you’d have got some very long odds on that.
SOCCER: There’s a big fuss back home at the moment about the prospect of James McCarthy jumping ship and declaring for Scotland after his one cap career with Ireland. I don’t think it will happen like that for what it’s worth, but I do find Giovanni Trapattoni’s refusal to pick up the phone and talk to young McCarthy in Wigan quite bizarre. Anyone who has watched Ireland’s European campaign to date will know we need all the quality we can get, and anyone who has studied McCarthy’s blossoming Premier League career will know how good he is. We need McCarthy. And soon.
SOCCER: Our old friend Raymond Domenech of French World Cup fame has broken his silence with a big magazine interview in Paris in respect of last summer’s South African debacle. The best news is that Domenech now believes that the French prats who went on strike were “horrible unthinking brats.” The bad news is that he has still to apologize for the manner in which his team cheated Ireland out of the World Cup finals.
RUGBY: Don’t blame Sean Cronin for the knock-on that cost Ireland so dearly against the French rugby team on Sunday. He had, after all, only been on the pitch for a few short minutes at that stage. He does, however, deserve to start next week’s game in Scotland at the expense of Ulster’s Rory Best after all Ireland’s line-out problems at the Aviva.
HURLING: Don’t read too much into Kilkenny’s win over Tipperary in the NHL opener at Semple Stadium on Saturday night. Most of the Tipp team spent Friday at captain Eoin Kelly’s wedding which might explain why they looked tired if not emotional during the match!
HERO OF THE WEEK
If you can find a youngster who can score the sort of goal that Wayne Rooney scored for Manchester United against Manchester City at Old Trafford last Saturday, then you have a sporting hero on your hands. It wasn’t just the beauty of the execution that made Rooney’s goal so special; it was the genius and the courage to try it in a game of such importance. Rooney dedicated the goal to the United fans afterwards. When they win the English title this season, as they will, they can put that goal down as the reason why.
IDIOT OF THE WEEK
One website on Sunday evening awarded the man of the match award for the Ireland-France game at the Aviva Stadium to David Pearson of France. Rugby heads will know that David Pearson is the English referee who took charge of the first Six Nations game in the new Lansdowne, but anyone who watched his performance will know why the smart alecs of the web deemed him to be a Frenchman. Some of the penalties awarded against Ireland were truly idiotic and those penalties were one of the main reasons the home team lost.