When reading tabloid accounts of footballers filming roastings with their phone-cams, said reports rarely mention the need for subsequent counseling….for the men. The Sporting Chance Clinic’s Peter Kay tells the Observer’s Tony Lamont, “Sexual behaviour, when it’s out of control or risky, is about changing the way one feels about life or the world.” Which certainly sounds better than say, “a violent, non-consensual act punishable in some countries by death.”
Why does it seem to affect footballers in particular?
Perhaps life isn’t exciting enough any more, perhaps they’re not playing football because of injury or they’ve been dropped. It’s linked to self-esteem. If they do pull, if they do get the girl, it makes them feel good about themselves. They start filming [during sex] because they can show their mates and feel better about themselves. They managed to do this, they got a girl to… you know, whatever it is. It’s a conquest. In my experience, the hero at a football club is not the person who scores the most goals, or who is the most effective passer of the ball, it’s the one who shags the most.
It often seems to be the younger footballers, too…
Because it’s about identity. Some of it is about maturing and becoming an adult. Half the time, a lot of them don’t know what it entails to be a man, because they haven’t had very good role models around them. From a young age everything’s been done for them by their club: there are many footballers we’ve had who have retired without ever dealing with their bank account. They’ve never booked a dentist appointment. And they’re in a very macho environment. There’s a tribal element to it, the pack-animal feeling: ‘We can do what we like. We’ve got plenty of money, we’re well known, if we want to shag three girls at once we’ll do it.’ It’s very much the arrogance coming out.
Do the players you treat find it embarrassing to open up about sex?
Rarely do they own up to the sexual side of things until we start building some trust. A sportsman wouldn’t phone up and say: ‘I can’t stop going out and picking up women.’ When they’re with us, trust is formed. It is quite normal for younger footballers to text 10 or 15 different girls on a Saturday night, asking: ‘Do you fancy a Chinese and a DVD round at my place?’ They get six or seven replies, and then decide who they want to come round. There isn’t any meaning to it, there isn’t any relationship-building or courtship. They think: ‘I feel bad, I feel lonely, I feel sad, I can’t tell anyone about it. So let’s change the way I feel – let’s pick up a girl. I’ll feel better if she lets me shag her.’