Players tell FFT of drug-taking and match-fixing
The Players' Poll, published in the new issue of FourFourTwo (out now), surveyed 100 professional footballers across all four English divisions and the SPL – and the results will raise eyebrows in the game.
Half of the anonymous interviewees said that footballers use recreational drugs, particularly cocaine. "There's a lot of cocaine about because it leaves the system quickly," says an SPL midfielder, while a League One midfielder agrees: "I've witnessed it between team-mates and players from other clubs. I can't believe it goes on but it definitely does."
Although cocaine is not defined as a performance-enhancing drug, a significant number of the poll respondents believe 'doping' does go on in football. The survey reveals that 13 percent of players believe performance enhancers are used, with a further 19 percent neither agreeing nor disagreeing.
"Why wouldn't it happen? What goes on in the wider world is reflected by what happens in sport," says a Premier League player. A top-flight striker also notes that "You do wonder – I've come up against a defender who wasn't the quickest one season and then like s**t off a shovel the next."
A staggering 14 percent of the players polled agreed that match-fixing is still an issue in football, with one League Two defender saying: "It goes on, I'm telling you. I've had players call me and tell me to bet on the outcome of a match, especially at the end of a season in League Two or the Conference. I've never been approached myself, but I know it goes on."
Another defender currently plying his trade in League Two claims he and his team-mates had been told to throw a match during a previous spell with a non-league side.
Meanwhile, over a quarter of players claimed to have witnessed a fellow professional being racist first-hand.
"It's still there. I've had a defender racially insult me throughout a game and I know black team-mates have suffered the same", one Championship striker explained, adding; "maybe it doesn't happen as regularly as it did, but it's still there - it has never gone away."
"When I first started playing, I knew of players who would use racist language to get the edge on an opponent" claimed an SPL striker, who said 'nothing was done' about the abuse.
A quarter of the players polled also agreed that a gay player would be an outcast, with two players 'strongly agreeing'. One SPL player said the game wasn't 'a tolerable environment' for a homosexual player, although another player from Scotland's top flight claimed that any footballer who did come out would 'make a f***ing fortune' as 'everyone would be all over him'.
The majority of players - 62 percent in all - disagreed with the statement, with one Championship and international striker saying "I think you'd actually have some banter; he wouldn't be treated any differently".