Imagine if Deadspin had run pictures of a married football player’s genitals alongside the name of the woman who had received those pictures – but didn’t print the player’s name because they were forbidden by law. It’s an odd scenario that seems impossible in the United States, but is somehow within the realm of possibility in Great Britain, where the latest soccer philandering scandal has resulted in the woman, Imogen Thomas, a model and TV personality, being identified while the married Premier League player she’s been having an affair with remains anonymous – and by court order.
The distraught former Miss Wales said she phoned the player last week after learning details of their affair had leaked out. Tearful Imogen told how she begged him to use his influence to suppress the story – in the hope they could keep their relationship alive. He told her: “I’ll look after you.” But she says they were the last words the footballer said to her. Instead the player, a married father, took action to protect his wholesome image. Within hours Imogen was served a draconian High Court gagging order, which threatened her with jail. Then a judge ruled her name could be made public – while her mega-rich lover’s identity must remain protected.
The High Court order bans the media from identifying the multi-millionaire star, meaning he joins a rogue’s gallery of footballers who have exploited the might of the law to hide their alleged marital misdemeanours. Mr Justice Eady’s draconian ruling prevents the media from revealing any identifying features of the footballer. In effect, it means fans whose sporting idols are raking in millions of pounds in sponsorship deals can never know if the star in the adverts they watch might be concealing a sordid secret.