Pros lack real pro attitude

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:14 AM ET

It shouldn't be much of a surprise really.

So many professional athletes today are professional in meaning -- that is, they accept money to play a game.

So many other aspects of being professional -- from on- and off-field conduct to how they prepare to be a professional, to how they deal with everything surrounding their profession -- are virtually ignored.

It's all about the paycheque.

This week provided yet another example of how so many world-class soccer players have become world-class whiners and complainers, looking to blame their own shortcomings on someone else.

The first leg of the Champions League semifinals were held, with Manchester United defeating Arsenal 1-0 at home and favoured Barcelona and Chelsea playing to a scoreless draw in Spain. The results were hardly devastating to anyone, particularly Manchester United or Barcelona. Man-U is up by one, and any kind of goal at Arsenal will make them difficult to beat. Barcelona is headed to England, where any kind of draw that includes a goal will be good enough for them to advance.

But none of that was good enough for the whiners.

Barcelona could hardy wait for the game to be over to complain about Chelsea's tactics. They then lit into the referee, feeling he wasn't strict enough with Chelsea and as a result, Barcelona couldn't play its game.

Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo felt the referee in his match cost Manchester United a bigger win.

"Two offsides are not offside and a few fouls he didn't give. It was not his best game," he said. "The first one Anderson was not offside and, with Giggsy, I'm not sure either. They are not great decisions but you have to respect the referees, even if they were not brilliant -- and just hope they will be better at Arsenal."

Coming from one of the biggest divers in the game, any comments Ronaldo makes about the officiating, especially using the word respect, should make everyone giggle.

He went on to say that while it's going to be more difficult this week at Arsenal, "We created so many chances that I believe we will score again at Arsenal next week."

And that's the point really for both Ronaldo and Barcelona. Play better.

The results had little do to with the officiating. It had everything to do with not performing to a high enough standard.

Ronaldo himself said United created a lot of chances and didn't score.

Barcelona should have scored on chances by Samuel Eto'o, Bojan Krkic, Alexander Hleb, Thierry Henry and others. Barcelona scores once and the game takes on a different dimension.

It has become so easy to blame officials when things don't go right. In a 90-minute game, a referee or linesman makes one mistake and a team immediately seizes on that error as the one moment that ruined the game.

The bigger the failure, the more often the blame falls on everyone other than the team or player who failed to deliver.

It gets old in a hurry.

How refreshing would it be if Ronaldo had said the following: "The refereeing made little difference. As players who make hundreds of thousands of pounds a week, we should have played better and scored on the chances we had."

After the assembled masses pick themselves up off the floor and the shock wears off, they'll be left with one thought: What a wonderfully professional attitude to have.


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