he stream of revelations over the private life of Wayne Rooney, the England soccer team's star striker, has forced one of his main American sponsors to desert him. Coca-Cola confirmed it would not be using the Manchester United player for its forthcoming Coke Zero promotions. News of Rooney's infidelities with prostitutes have prompted sports writers and bloggers to dub him "the new Tiger Woods." Here's an instant guide to England's latest soccer sex scandal:
What did Rooney do?
According to the British tabloid News of the World, Rooney repeatedly paid for sex with at least two prostitutes while his wife, Coleen, was pregnant with his baby son, Kai. The 24-year-old reportedly paid over $4,000 for sex with Jenny Thompson, 21, and another escort, Helen Wood, 23. Coleen Rooney fled to her parents' house after the story first emerged, but has since reportedly decided to give her husband one more chance.
Is this the first time Rooney has been caught with prostitutes?
No. In 2004, the soccer player confessed to visiting "massage parlors" in his hometown of Liverpool for sex with a 48-year-old grandmother nicknamed "Auld Slapper." Although he wasn't married at the time, he and Coleen were already dating. The couple have been together since they were 12 years old.
What have his sponsors said?
Rooney, who is paid a salary of about $150,000 a week, will no longer appear on cans of Coke Zero in the U.K, at least for the time being. Coca-Cola said it was not "appropriate" to feature the soccer star while the lurid stories were still in the headlines, but said it would continue its relationship with him. Nike, Rooney's other main sponsor, has pledged to retain his services.
What has the reaction been like in the bleachers?
After England's disappointing World Cup campaign, the team's notoriously fickle supporters are outraged at this latest embarrassment. In a particularly cruel taunt, English fans in the stands even came up with a chant to provoke Rooney, set to the tune of a Bob Marley song: "No woman, no Kai."
Has it affected Rooney's playing?
It would seem so. He is yet to score a goal in open play in this year's English Premier League, over six weeks after it started. Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson put it down to "exhaustion" from all the media attention. That's a laughable claim, says Piers Morgan in The Daily Mail. More likely it's his "late-night booze-and-fags sessions with hookers" that have tired him out.
Is Rooney the only England footballer to be mired in a sex scandal?
Hardly. Rooney's fellow England player John Terry was sacked as captain of the squad in January after his affair with a teammate's girlfriend was revealed. England stars Ashley Cole and Peter Crouch have also had extramarital affairs revealed in the tabloids this year.
Why can't English football players keep it in their pants?
Because such behavior is rarely punished, says Sheena Hastings at The Yorkshire Post. Soccer players "seem to think they are above all normal beings when it comes to operating any sense of moral duty" — and sponsors, managers, and forgiving wives seem to agree. But Rooney is a special case, says Richard Williams in the Guardian. At the tender age of 16 he was "catapulted into a world of Ferraris," $75,000 watches, gated residential estates, and nightclubs filled with gorgeous women. "If he were to have acquired any semblance of a moral compass in these circumstances, it would be something of a miracle."
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