Courts losing sympathy with footballers, says Max Clifford

Rio Ferdinand's loss of a privacy case against the Sunday Mirror suggests the public's waning sympathy for footballers is now shifting into the courts, according to Max Clifford.

Rio Ferdinand: loses 'kiss and tell' court battle
Rio Ferdinand: loses 'kiss and tell' court battle

Ferdinand yesterday lost his privacy action over a ‘kiss and tell’ story published by the Sunday Mirror in April 2010 in which Carly Storey gave her account of their 13-year relationship.

Ferdinand brought his case for misuse of private information. The judge said: ‘Overall, in my judgement, the balancing exercise favours the defendant's right of freedom of expression over the claimant's right of privacy.’

Clifford told PRWeek: ‘I think that the general consequence of stories such as Ryan Giggs’ is that there’s far less sympathy for them [footballers] now - not just publicly but now legally. The general consensus is that maybe it's time for them to be responsible for their own actions.’

A PRWeek Reputation Survey earlier this month revealed that footballers’ reputations are the lowest of any sports players, in a survey of 2,000 members of the UK public.

Footballers have the worst reputation, according to 82 per cent of those asked, despite it being the most watched sport among the general public.

Two-thirds of respondents said stories about footballers' affairs had damaged the reputation of football. 82 per cent said brands were right to drop sponsorship of sports players who misbehaved.

Clifford added that the recent overuse of super injunctions has had a part to play in the lowering of the public’s view of footballers.

‘I’ve always said you have to understand that you use the media to set yourself up – it’s a two-way street, said Clifford. ‘The reputation of football gets lower every year.’

PHA Media associate director Stuart Skinner agreed with Clifford: 'It's a sign of the times. Footballers are using up a lot of good will with the public. That's a trend happening at the moment.'

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