After Manchester United’s 2-1 win over Liverpool at the weekend, a bitter taste was left in the mouth of Anfield legend Jamie Carragher after he was videoed spitting in the direction of a 14-year-old girl.
After being subjected to ‘banter’ from fellow motorists on his drive back to Merseyside, something snapped inside the Sky Sports pundit.
Footage uploaded to social media showed Carragher’s car pulling up alongside one being driven by the girl’s father and, after a brief verbal exchange, the former England defender is seen spitting at them before speeding away.
What he describes as a “moment of madness” and the “worst mistake” of his 25-year career, has not gone down well with public or his employers, who have suspended him from his punditry role.
A Sky spokesperson tweeted: “Jamie Carragher has been suspended from his duties… after he was filmed spitting at a family in their car following Liverpool’s defeat against Manchester United on Saturday.”
As vile as his act may have been, the debate to whether he should keep his job at Sky Sports rumbles on. TV sports presenters and pundits have been fired for a lot less.
When footage of the sexist antics of Sky Sports duo Richard Keys and Andy Gray was leaked in 2011, both were fired. But while sexism is not accepted in this day and age, their behaviour didn’t break the law, unlike Carragher’s.
What has followed since the spitting episode is a lot of apologies and a few tears shed, but is this enough?
Should the Liverpudlian be fired for his behaviour because not only is he a sporting legend, but a role model for many young people, and this wouldn’t be tolerated if he wasn’t famous.
But should Carragher no longer be able to do what he loves for a living simply because he reacted badly after being provoked?
Gary Neville, Carragher’s punditry partner and once-bitter rival tweeted: “I have just watched @Carra32 say sorry. No excuses he’s made a big mistake.
“He’s massively passionate about football and he’s overstepped the mark and shouldn’t have reacted. I’ve been on TV for 3 years with him and imo this isolated incident shouldn’t stop us working together.”
Many believe Neville is trying to help his now good friend, rather than seeing the situation for what it really is.
Others argue that if that it was an ‘ordinary’ man involved, he would be charged with common assault, which could lead to a conviction and result in him losing his job.
So why isn’t Carragher losing his job and being treated like everyone else would be over something that is documented and undeniable?
Before this incident, Carragher had become extremely popular with the football public through his great punditry skills and his back-and-forth banter with Neville, so should we look at this one incident or his career as a whole?
Speaking to Sky, Carragher said: “Some people may like me, some people may not like me even before this incident, but hopefully going forward I can show them that I don’t feel this is the real representation of me.
“As I said, hopefully Sky or the general public will look at the 25 years – and I’ve made mistakes in those 25 years – but this, the mistake I’ve made is a huge one.”
Following intensive media attention, the father of the teenager – who was also breaking the law by filming on his phone while driving – went on to release his own statement, saying: “We don’t want him to lose his job. It’s not about that.
“We wanted an apology and explanation. He seems contrite. Everyone makes mistakes, we are all human. He did seem extremely sorry.”
So is this something that simply went too far and exposed both men’s law-breaking behaviour, or has it not gone far enough and do they need to be prosecuted for something that would not be tolerated in any other situation?