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You know the World Cup’s getting closer when England footballers start having run-ins with the media.

In 2010, it was John Terry. He made enemies with every national newspaper editor just weeks before the tournament started.

He got a court order banning them from exposing his affair with an England team-mate’s ex-girlfriend - even though the issue had split the England squad and was affecting morale. No great surprise that the knives were out for him once the tournament started.

This time, it’s Wayne Rooney. He was furious last week because the Mirror published photos of him playing golf with his son Kai. He tweeted: ‘Disgusting that English press have flew out to Portugal to follow me while I'm with my children.’

A surprising reaction, as he had posted a public Facebook video himself and Kai playing football just two days earlier. It has attracted more than 108,000 likes so far.

Rooney consistently goes to great lengths to keep his kids out the public eye. He posts photos of them on Twitter and paraded both Kai and Klay in fronts of thousands of fans at Old Trafford.

It’s a safe bet that Rooney’s skirmish with the Mirror has soured relations with the UK press pack, before England even miss a penalty in Brazil.

Human rights law gives Rooney the right to a private family life - but stars like him make it difficult for the media. They expose their kids to worldwide publicity one day, but want privacy the next.

From an editor’s point of view, it’s very hit-and-miss. A bit like Rooney’s World Cup goal scoring form.

Cleland Thom is legal advisor to TNT and other media. He also runs online journalism courses. Contact him at Cleland@clelandthom.com


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