Even footballers have the right to some privacy, argues Phil Hall, PHA Media chairman
One of the world's greatest footballers Cristiano Ronaldo recently took the unusual step of invading his own privacy – by revealing he had a son out of wedlock and was going to bring him up alone. This from a man who has issued more legal letters and injunctions than goals he scored in the World Cup Finals ... so just why did he move the goalposts?
I believe by making such an announcement he has, to use the parlance of his most famous move, sidestepped what was inevitably going to be a huge media storm. The announcement through his Facebook site put the press pack on the back foot and gave them a story that filled column inches the world over.
He then helped satiate their appetite by allowing his sister to speak to the media and add colour to the story in the coming days. As part of his media strategy he has asked for the baby to be given some measure of privacy and he also explained that the mother wants her identity to remain secret.
If the media in Europe do not respect this request, he can always fall back on the injunction route. The issue might be for the child's mother because if she lives in America, she will be outside the jurisdiction of the Human Right Act that effectively provides us with privacy laws.
Do footballers and other high profile sportsmen have the right to private lives? As someone who advises people like John Terry and Carlos Tevez, I obviously do believe they have a right to family life away from the glare of publicity.
The media will argue that if a sportsman sells his/her wedding to Hello!, or poses for pictures at a theme park with their children, then all bets are off. They trot out the line you can't turn on the tap of publicity when it suits you and turn it off when it suits you.
I don't believe that is reasonable. Just because you agree to share the happiest day of your life with a magazine, should not mean if there is then a marital dispute it is fair for the papers to publish every detail. If you took that argument to the extreme you could perversely claim that if magazines sell huge numbers on the back of a wedding they must also publish any trivial story that celebrity wants on the basis they too must take the rough with the smooth.
Where things blur is when a celebrity takes large fees for a commercial endorsement which insists they are a clean-cut individual. The media can then argue they are exposing hypocrisy or a falsehood that gives the story the "public interest" defence and publish with a clear conscience.
Phil Hall is Ex Editor of the News of the World and Chairman of PHA Media. Phil writes a regular column for PRmoment.com.
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