The world is awash in talk of privilege these days. But for athletes the phenomenon is nothing new: since time immemorial star athletes have seemed to play by a different set of rules when it comes to referees and officials. But it may be getting worse. Look no further than the World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who was able to bend the rules during the US Open Final and get a six minute rest in the middle of the fourth set — unchallenged by the umpire. On the same day Manchester United superstar Wayne Rooney competed against Manchester City playing under what appeared to be a different set of rules than the other players.
The Manchester Evening News estimates that it was on Rooney’s fifth yellow card-level offense that Rooney was finally given a card. And it wasn’t as if the referee Mark Clattenburg didn’t know where the cards were — the hard-fought Man City 2-1 victory saw three of them given. (Though Clattenburg missed an egregious cardable offense aimed at Rooney by Man City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.) Whether Rooney actually committed five cardable offences is hard to say, but that different players receive different treatment — and even more so now perhaps with the bigger celebrity and money attached — is inarguable. Patrick McEnroe called Djokovic’s move a “complete abuse of the rules.” Many thought Rooney repeatedly did the same with utter impunity. If sports are going to remain the great meritocracy, something has to be done to end star privilege in the officiating.
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— MCFC World (@MCFCworld) September 10, 2016