Are Undercover Stings Ethical?

On the 27th September 2016  The Daily Telegraph reported that Sam Allardyce had used his position as England manager to negotiate a £400,000 deal and offered advice to businessmen on how to “get around” FA rules on player transfers. Sam Allardyce’s response to his dismissal as England manager was: “entrapment has won”. This has sparked off much debate as to whether the tactics used by the press, in  order to establish his participation in illegal proposals, were ethical.

Journalists from the newspaper posed as ‘businessmen’ in order to gain footage of Allardyce voicing his intentions. However, were they right to employ such tactics?

Reasons to support their actions:

    • public interest Allardyce was employed by the FA yet giving advice on how to bend their rules.
    • public figures should be held responsible for their actions.
    • this was not just a ‘fishing expedition’ it followed a 10 month investigation into corruption and bribery in British football.
    • prevented the possibility of further corruption and financial impropriety
    • exposed his actions with regards a public and not a private matter.
    • FA took appropriate actions as a consequence. Condemning him for ‘inappropriate’ conduct and a ‘serious error of judgment’.

Having read numerous articles on the affair, I am inclined to  agree with Roy Greenslade in The Guardian that this was “a worthwhile piece of investigative journalism” and not just an undercover sting.

Personally, I believe that Allardyce deserved what he got, in fact I think he came off lightly. He behaved unethically, abusing his position as England manager and the trust of both his colleagues and supporters. The whole sorry affair once again serves to highlight football as no longer a “sport of Kings” but a huge business riddled with corruption and greed. I hope that this will lead to further, serious investigation into football and it’s governing bodies both nationally and internationally.

I am sure that it will do little to dent Allardyce’s estimated net worth of £10 million. When questioned in an interview as to what he was going to do next he replied, “I’m off abroad to chill out and reflect”!

I realise that this summary is based on my opinion. I have not explored the possibility that, in fact, the end does not always justify the means. However, this subject touches a raw nerve. The obscene amount of money that is involved in football at all levels is, to me, no less than a crime in the fight against poverty.

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