Having spent the last number of months acting as a spokesman for the Qatari bid to purchase Manchester United, seemingly forgetting the comments he’s made in the past about Manchester City’s ownership and City’s rise to dominance, Rio Ferdinand has found himself on the wrong side of a debate about the Middle East once again.
Ferdinand vs Carragher: A Contentious Debate
In recent remarks made via his “Five” platform, Ferdinand took shots at Jamie Carragher over the former Liverpool defender’s comments about the Saudi Pro League. Carragher has called into question whether it is good for the game of football to have top players, still in their primes, moving to the Middle East rather than staying in Europe.
🚨 Rio Ferdinand on David De Gea
📝 David De Gea’s contract nears its expiry date with little certainty about his future at MUFC!
— FIVE (@FIVEUK) June 29, 2023
Accusations and Misunderstandings
Ferdinand claimed Carragher had been critical of players making the move, but said he had been quiet on the recent news that Steven Gerrard had moved there to take up a management position with Al-Ettifaq.
The were a few issues with Ferdinand’s comments, the most notable being that Carragher has not criticised any of the players who’ve made the move. Quite the opposite. Carragher said he could understand players being drawn to the league because of the money being offered.
Never criticised Silva, Benzema, Neves or SG, I don’t like Saudi trying to buy football like they have Golf.
— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) July 6, 2023
Carragher’s Concerns About the Saudi Pro League
Carragher’s issue with the Saudi Pro League centred around the premise of sports washing, and the players being used as pawns as the Saudi regime tries to make people forget its abhorrent human rights track record.
Drawing Parallels with the LIV Golf Controversy
Carragher had made similar comments about the LIV Golf competition that saw many of the world’s top players turn their backs on the PGA in favour of guaranteed money for LIV which far outstripped the potential earnings on the PGA tour.
Gerrard’s Position: Differentiating Management from Play
It also seemed to go over Ferdinand’s head that the Gerrard situation is different from those of the players. Gerrard is a manager, he’s taking a managerial opportunity. He isn’t leaving another club to go there, or turning down offers from elsewhere in order to collect a bigger bag of cash. He’s going there because that’s the job he was offered and he wants to stay active in management and rebuild his career after a disastrous spell at Aston Villa.
Ferdinand’s Take on Gerrard’s Career Move
Gerrard also hasn’t joined one of the four clubs taken over by the PIF, Al-Ettifaq are one of the “poorer” teams in the league so while his salary won’t be small it won’t be anywhere close to the riches being offered at Al-Ittihad, Al-Nassr, Al-Hilal, or Al-Ahli.
Taking Personal Shots: Ferdinand’s Claims About Carragher’s Career
Ferdinand compounded his poor take on the matter by taking shots at Carragher’s playing career, claiming he used to carry Gerrard’s boots and bag back when they played. Ferdinand has shown himself to be immensely delusional about his own level as a player, believing he would be worth well north of £100mil in today’s market, and that’s fine, but it’s incredibly disrespectful to make those comments about someone who played over 730 times for one of the biggest clubs in the world and was widely regarded as one of the best defenders in Europe for a four-year spell in the 2000s.