It's not every day that a professional footballer airs his family's dirty laundry on social media, but Tottenham striker Emmanuel Adebayor has done it. In a long and rambling Facebook post on Tuesday, Ade essentially went two-footed into his family, sharing stories about negative interactions with his mother and siblings, and accusing various family members of stealing, from taking advantage of his generosity to actually taking cellphones.
You can say what you want about Adebayor's play on the football pitch. He's definitely overpaid and underperforming on the field, and it's clear the club is trying to offload him and his huge wages. He's been exiled to the fringes of the squad by Mauricio Pochettino, and it's almost certainly not solely due to his on-field play. Professional athletes should be held accountable for their performance on the field of play and for their attitude off of it. But even after reading Ade's Facebook diatribe in a vacuum, and knowing that this isn't the whole story, I can't help but start to feel sorry for him. Beyond the footballer, there's an actual human being who is dealing with some incredibly difficult personal issues right now.
This is a difficult topic to discuss, in part because family dynamics are complicated things, especially when money is involved, but also in part because none of Adebayor's family members have been given an opportunity to respond to his allegations. Even though Ade states that money isn't the issue here, it does awful things to families that aren't prepared. You can't choose your family members. If you're extremely lucky you can live your life surrounded by family that you love and whom love you back unconditionally, but too often family is a minefield of abuse, raw emotions, and difficult relations. Adebayor's family appears to be of the second variety.
We've made fun of Emmanuel Adebayor on this site (perhaps unfairly, based on the filtered information we had at the time) for him saying his mother cast "bad juju" on him, and he's gotten a fair amount of criticism from fans for his indifferent attitude both for and away from Tottenham Hotspur. He even got ripped by some fans when he was granted compassionate leave to attend to his brother, who later passed away. These are all things that happened, and there's undoubtedly cultural phenomena at play here that I, or even most people, don't fully understand.
I'm not saying that Ade's family issues are a panacea to everything that has happened since he joined Tottenham Hotspur. Certainly Ade doesn't come across as the most sympathetic of sports figures, and he's burned his fair share of bridges along the way, but maybe it's time to have a little compassion for him on a human level. It sounds as though he's earned at least that.