On Tuesday evening, Harry Maguire posted a quote supposedly deriving from Buddha on his Instagram story: “Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.” Which made pretty clear what he thought of the verdict of a Greek court earlier in the day to convict him on three misdemeanor charges of aggravated assault, resisting arrest and attempted bribery. He was given a suspended sentence of 21 months and 10 days, but has vowed to appeal.
There has been a sense of the bizarre about the whole case, the seriousness of which seems only to have become clear on Tuesday—even to the England manager Gareth Southgate, who initially named Maguire in his squad for next week’s Nations League games, only subsequently to reverse that decision.
Quite apart from conflicting accounts of what actually occurred on the night in question, Maguire’s legal team are understood to have been shocked that a request to delay the trial was denied, even though they only formally received the charge sheet on Monday evening and the evidence at 8 a.m. Tuesday, two hours before the trial opened.
Maguire had flown to Mykonos last week with his fiancee Fern Hawkins, his sister Daisy, and his elder brother Joe. Other United players, including Marcus Rashford, Daniel James and Brandon Williams, also went to Mykonos. He was part of a group, also including the Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley and the former world snooker champion Judd Trump, that spent five hours drinking in a beachside bar last Thursday, running up a tab of around $80,000 on lobster, steak, vintage champagne and Jack Daniel’s.
It appears the first sign of trouble came when they were taunted by fans of a rival club, but matters turned seriously when, according to the defense, Maguire’s sister collapsed. The group believed she had been injected with a date-rape drug by “two Albanians” and called the driver of their rental van to take them to a clinic. Acting under instruction from undercover police officers, though, he instead took them to the island’s police station.
The defense claimed Maguire and his group had not known the undercover officers were police and feared they were part of a criminal gang, leading to a physical altercation. “Our bus door opened and five or six males tried to force us off by physically pulling us,” said Ashden Morley, a friend of the Maguires. In his testimony he said he believed they were going to be “held at ransom”.
The defense lawyer Alexis Anagnostakis claimed police had shoved Maguire and deliberately kicked his leg, telling him, “Your career is over.” The defense has said Maguire suffered bruising consistent with his story but that it was not given time to prepare a forensic report. Police allege Maguire tried to bribe them, saying, “Please, let me go. I am very rich. I can pay. I am the leader of Manchester United.”
Maguire, his brother, and friend Chris Sharman were held for two days before being released on bail. All three were convicted, although Sharman was not charged with bribery. Joe Maguire and Sharman got 13-month suspended sentences. Manchester United has stood by the defender, pointing to the lack of time given his defense and pointing out that he has appealed. There is no suggestion that the club is considering Maguire’s future.
Various questions remain, though, the most obvious of which is what happened to Daisy Maguire? Why did she faint, what medical assistance did she receive and what happened to any samples that were taken? It’s been suggested the undercover police, who are common on Mykonos to ensure anti-Covid measures are followed, did not adequately declare who they were, but perhaps people who have been drinking for five hours are prone to confusion. Still, the absence of any video evidence, even from outside the police station, seems unusual.
But perhaps more pertinent are the questions about Maguire’s conduct. Of course anybody of any profession has a right to a holiday, and no player should face abuse from rival fans, and chants about the Munich air disaster of 1958 are particularly unpleasant, but equally there has to be a measure of realism. United and perhaps Southgate will presumably speak to Maguire about whether it might pay to be more discreet, and whether ostentatious consumption on a beachside bar on a notorious party island is really the best way to avoid confrontation.
(Then again, it could be argued the sheer size of the bill suggests Maguire was somewhere that should offer a degree of exclusivity. Yet it may equally be that the $80,000 tab is what sticks in the public's mind—part of Maguire’s popularity is that he seems so down-to-earth; nothing is so likely to undermine that as splashing a year’s pay on U.K. minimum wage on a single bottle of champagne.)
At this stage, it feels that nothing has been satisfactorily explained and that nobody comes out of this well. Amid general confusion, it can only be hoped an appeal makes things clearer, one way or the other.