Former West Ham United hero Carlos Tevez has been causing controversy in South America.
Tevez’s move to West Ham back in 2007 shook the football world.
Two of the biggest stars of South American football suddenly rocked up at West Ham’s beloved Upton Park as Javier Mascherano and Tevez signed in an unforgettable double deal.
Tevez may have been born and raised in Buenos Aires but the connection he enjoyed with Hammers fans was like that of a homegrown East Ender.
The striker got West Ham fans and their values. And Tevez’s bullish determination, passion and workrate instantly won him a place in their hearts.
Tevez wrote his name into Hammers folklore
The fact he went on to score the vital goals which helped keep West Ham in the Premier League during the Great Escape only enhanced his status at the club.
There were ramifications for West Ham, though. The nature of the Tevez and Mascherano deal broke Premier League rules over third party ownership.
West Ham were hit with what remains a record £5.5million Premier League fine.
And a lawsuit from aggrieved Sheffield United awarded them £18million in compensation after they were relegated to the Championship.
Tevez, who has been regularly linked with a return to West Ham in the latter part of his career, is no stranger to controversy.
‘Footballers could go a year without pay’
And he has been causing a stir in his native South America with his selfless stance on the global health crisis.
Premier League captains have been embroiled in an ugly power struggle with their clubs after rejecting a 30% pay cut in favour of forming their own charitable foundation to help the NHS.
So when Tevez boldly declared “A footballer can live for six months or a year without getting paid” last week many on these shores applauded him (ESPN).
But over in Argentina, the former West Ham striker’s words have sparked an angry reaction from his fellow footballers.
According to a report from ESPN, Arsenal goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez dismissed Tevez’s statement as “a lie.”
And veteran midfielder Nestor Ortigoza of Rosario Central called on Tevez “not to mess with the wallets of other people.”
Even the great Diego Maradona was forced to disagree with his close friend.
“True, there are players who can go a while without getting paid,” Maradona said (ESPN).
“But there are others who can’t even go a month without receiving, and we have to make sure that these players are helped.”
Now 36, Tevez has enjoyed a highly paid career at the top level. His earning peaked during a spell in China where he became the highest paid player in the world on over £615,000 per week (ITV).
Tevez comments cause controversy even Maradona disagrees
“As the coronavirus shutdown piled on the pressure for players to accept wage cuts, the response to the remarks of Tevez point to a universal truth: It is much easier to tighten the collective belt if everyone is wearing the same-sized trousers,” ESPN reports.
“This is the first problem confronted by attempts in South America to reduce wages. Around the continent, even in first divisions, there are many players on comparatively low salaries, without a lot of fat to be cut.
“Then there is another problem entirely — the historic mistrust that players justifiably feel toward the clubs.
“Wages paid late or not at all are a worryingly common part of the South American game, and at one time or another the problem has provoked strikes in each country on the continent. There is a common question asked by a player thinking of joining a new club: Does the month have 30 days, or is it closer to 90? In other words, will I get paid on time?”
West Ham fans will agree with Tevez’s sentiments nonetheless.
With a wage bill of around £60million, every member of the West Ham squad could live comfortably on massively reduced pay.