Pogba is one of many Premier League players who get shamed for having the audacity to make money.
Paul Pogba didn’t have a good game for Manchester United against Chelsea on Monday. It was one of a handful of average performances he’s turned in this season, which many find unacceptable because he cost a £89 million transfer fee and makes a salary of about £15 million per season.
Media criticism of Pogba led his manager Jose Mourinho to launch into an impassioned defense of his player on Wednesday.
— Full Time DEVILS (@FullTimeDEVILS) March 15, 2017
“I feel that the world is losing its values and we all know that envy is coming in at certain levels,” said Mourinho. He added, “It’s not Paul’s fault that he gets 10 times the money some players did in the past.”
Based on the English media’s incessant coverage of how footballers spend their money, Mourinho has a point. Here’s a short selection of Pogba envy stories designed to generate clicks from people who are mad that footballers are rich.
— Mirror Football (@MirrorFootball) September 8, 2016
— Mirror Football (@MirrorFootball) November 18, 2016
— The Sun Football ⚽ (@TheSunFootball) February 27, 2017
But coverage of Pogba is actually pretty tame, at least compared to how other rich footballers — usually black players — are treated. If you do something like refuse to sign a new contract or get into a car accident, the media gets really nasty.
Here’s how the English press treats you when rumors come out that you’d like to change clubs. What does Romelu Lukaku’s car have to do with him not wanting to sign a new contract?
— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) March 15, 2017
Think you can be spared negative coverage by spending conservatively and opting not to flaunt your wealth? Think again. The English media’s favorite target is Raheem Sterling, and stories that attack him perform so well that outlets even shame him when he’s being as modest as possible.
— Daily Mail U.K. (@DailyMailUK) January 5, 2017
— Everything City (@Everything_City) January 30, 2017
Before Sterling, Lukaku, and Pogba, there was Mario Balotelli. He might be the all-time leader in negative coverage related to his income and lifestyle.
Man City’s Mario Balotelli reportedly racks up £55k hotel bill after he was forced to evacuate firework-ravaged home http://t.co/nDYTxnbq
— The Sun (@TheSun) December 15, 2011
— The Sun Football ⚽ (@TheSunFootball) July 9, 2012
And god forbid you get into a car accident on a slippery road. You’ll be quoted as saying something about having so much money that you don’t need the car, by an anonymous person that no one can track down to verify the story.
— The Sun Football ⚽ (@TheSunFootball) November 23, 2016
It’s not like this is a one bad outlet problem. There are stories above from the Sun, Star, Mail, and Mirror, while smaller outlets and aggregators love joining the pile-on.
Mourinho is right. A lot of people are upset that footballers make a lot of money, and a lot of people want Pogba to fail because they don’t think any footballer is worth an £89 million transfer fee and a £15 million per season salary. Among those people who are inherently outraged by those large numbers is a subgroup who especially wants Pogba to fail because they don’t like it when young black athletes get rich while exercising any kind of personal autonomy or expressing their personalities. And playing along are the tabloids and TV shows, happy to shovel coal into the outrage machine.
But envy is stupid. Complaining about what athletes do with their money won’t make you any less broke. Don’t be one of these people. Let Pogba live.