Former Arsenal defender now set to defend himself to London’s electorate

From central defense to the political right wing? Former England, Tottenham and Arsenal defender Sol Campbell has confirmed he is considering standing for Mayor of London.

Campbell is reportedly being lined up by some in the center-right Conservative Party to replace incumbent and future ex-American Boris Johnson when he steps down next year to manage QPR… oh, wait, sorry. To enter parliament. It’d be totally inconceivable that a man who has spent the past eight years running Europe’s biggest city could ever move into soccer management, but it’s not ridiculous that an ex-player could take the opposite route with no political experience.

One hurdle for Campbell is that no Spurs fans will vote for him, given that resentment still lingers at White Hart Lane from his 2001 move to Arsenal. Chelsea fans, meanwhile, don’t like Spurs or Arsenal, so there goes their vote as well.

Another is that while spreading the capital city’s wealth more equally is a noble message, will the electorate want to hear it from a multimillionaire who formerly pulled in $100,000 a week?

Campbell says that he wants to mobilize the black vote and help get more ethnic minorities into positions of political power in one of the world’s most diverse cities. But last October he was reported as saying he wanted to join the Conservatives to fight the Labour Party’s so-called “mansions tax” on properties worth more than two million pounds (about $3m). No surprise from a man who owns “Hallington Hall, a Georgian mansion in Northumberland, while their London base is a large period flat overlooking the river in the smartest part of Chelsea.”

Campbell’s clearly a smart, thoughtful guy, and there is plenty of precedent for soccer players pursuing political careers. Pele was Brazil’s minister for sports. One of his predecessors was Zico. Ex-AC Milan star George Weah is said to be considering a second run for the Liberian presidency in 2017. And in 2008, former Russia striker Roman Pavlyuchenko was elected as a regional deputy for Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party – even though at the time he was playing for Tottenham, more than 2,000 miles away from his home town of Stavropol.

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