Usain Bolt is a rather fast man. You don’t need to take my word for it, people have been timing him for years. It is also generally accepted that speed is an incredibly valuable asset in football, as many of the very best players in the world are at least somewhat reliant on pace. So it must be asked, is this news (if it could even be called as much) that Usain Bolt is going to have a trial with Borussia Dortmund worthy of our attention? Sure, he can play a bit of keepie up, but does he really have any of the requisite skills needed to play the beautiful game at highest level? All of the media attention that he seems to be getting on the subject suggests that he might, and it should be taken seriously. However, I am here to tell you that it’s not.
First of all, consider the reported facts: Usain Bolt will be having a trial with Borussia Dortmund BUT he has his heart set on playing for Manchester United. Um…what? If he wants to go to United, why not just have his trial there? Having him in to work out for them does not give Borussia Dortmund any control over his football career, only signing a contract would do that. So the question then becomes WHY is Dortmund even involved at all? I hate to break it to you football fans, but the reason is not hard to figure, and it certainly isn’t exciting. What do Bolt, the fastest man on planet earth when he was at his physical peak, and the German football club have in common?
They share a sponsor.
Think about it. You are a performance apparel company that has invested a ton of sponsorship money into this athlete who is retiring from his primary sport. The bulk of your financial relationship is likely in the past, unless he continues in some sort of brand ambassador role with his own unique line under the main marque. So what do you do to maximise on the last legs of his athletic relevancy? You stage a publicity stunt of course, and who better to do it with than a club also sponsored by Puma? But which club do you choose? Not Arsenal, they don’t have the right kind of fans for that sort of thing and it could backfire if they aren’t interested in the distraction and not Leicester City, who have returned to relative insignificance in the collective conscience of the world after their astonishing title. Borussia Dortmund was the PERFECT choice for the stunt: a popular, trendy club with a rabid fan base, great kits and an eye for spotting talent and for thinking outside the box.
But would it work?…
What, are you mad? Footballers are professionals because they dedicated their lives to the craft, not just because they are blessed with amazing pace. Football is a whole different set of motor and mental skills that Bolt has not had to develop at all during his sprinting career. He might look good playing around with his friends and a ball for fun, but it is insulting to the game of football and the players who have dedicated themselves to the sport for their entire lives. Feel free to hope it happens (I mean, how crazy would it be watching Usain Bolt running a counter attack with Marco Reus and Christian Pulisic?), but I am here to tell you with the utmost certainty that, like the rumoured race with Hector Bellerin last year, this is nothing but a publicity stunt.