Football fans may be hard, even brutal, in their criticism of players, sometimes even in their own teams. The obverse is that as hero-worshippers they are often sentimental: hence the roof-lifting reception that awaits Cristiano Ronaldo when he runs out in the red jersey on his return to Old Trafford. He may not, at thirty-six, be quite the player he was and has lost some speed, but he has been scoring goals for Juventus and Portugal, two, both from headers, for his country in a World Cup qualifier this week, and it will be surprising if he doesn’t do so for United this season.
Like it or not, sport is intertwined with politics. Sportsmen who reject the link are shirking the responsibility that accompanies their money and fame.