An ‘Iconoclastic’ mail about the Premiership stars

On Mediawatch today (Ref: ’24 hours later’) you mention that

    “We should also take a minute to savour Mr Smith’s words ‘He is, perhaps, the only true global icon plying his trade in the Premier League’ and offer the words ‘Wayne’ and ‘Rooney’.”

Well, let me be a bit of an iconoclast here – great player that he is, the two words ‘Wayne’ and “Rooney’ do not make a global icon. A global icon is not necessarily (one of) the best footballers in the world. David Beckham was probably never among the top three players in Man United leave alone the world, but was he, for a long time, the face of the Premier league to the greater world? Oh yes he was. Cantona was a global icon. Henry was a global icon. Zidane was a global icon. Cristiano Ronaldo is currently the biggest footballing global icon. Messi and Kaka are global icons. And before you say that probably one has to be reasonably okay looking to be a global icon, Ronaldinho, and before him bucktooth Ronaldo, with faces that could sink a thousand ships, were global icons too. However, Rooney is not. British icon he may well be, footballing world icon he is not.

The Premier League is a huge global brand, especially because of its reach, it reaches the non-footballing superpower countries and regions (Africa, Arabic Asia, the Cricketing subcontinent, South east Asia, for example) in a way in which no other football league manages. Only the world cup compares with the Premier League in reach. And I have a bit of a vantage point here, as I am currently in India, and have a fair idea about the football following culture in South east Asia and Arabic Asia, and a little about the South Americas. Rooney is not the face of the premier league to the greater world, Torres is. Even Gerrard and Lampard are bigger global brands than Rooney. If anything, Sir Ferguson is a bigger brand than Rooney to the greater world. Arsenal is similarly icon-malnourished. A match between Arsenal and Man United is always advertised as the clash of Arsene and Sir.

And the shirt sales numbers are misleading. Man United is the most supported club in Asia by a distance (Liverpool comes second). I believe in the rest of the world it is fairly evenly distributed. So how is Torres’s shirt selling the most? It is because the casual not-virulently-supporting-a-club Premier League fan (yes, those exist) will buy the shirt of the biggest icon, and that is Torres. As for Rooney’s shirt sales being the third or fourth highest, that number is misleading too. This club has had global super-icon after super-icon. This club has had Cantona, then Beckham, then Cristiano Ronaldo. This club is the most supported in the shirt-buying world (that mostly excludes Spain and Germany and Italy too. They buy their own clubs’ shirts). The United fans are still there, remember? So whose shirt can they buy? The best player of their club, of course. And that’s Rooney.

Jaxx [{( If Rooney goes to Real Madrid, he will be out of the top 10 in shirt sales )]} B


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