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Abused players should react
How to sum up the Sterling situation in one e-mail? I don’t think it can be done but I felt compelled to write in on what I think is a massive social issue. Having taken some time to reflect and seen how the media and other relevant high profile individuals have responded I have got my 2 pennies worth together.
Racial injustice is a fascinating subject to me. I cannot comprehend that in this day and age people are still fighting battles that seem centuries old. The reaction by most is the old classic of sweeping it under the carpet or papering over the cracks. It is so sad that it has taken such a high profile incident (plus a direct message from Raheem) for the media to maybe take a look in the mirror and see whether they need to get themselves in check – they do by the way. F365 themselves have been pointing out the difference in how black/white players are portrayed in the media for donkeys but I guess it falls on deaf ears.
This brings me onto the point which has bugged me for a long long time; advising players not to react, not to walk off in the face of racial abuse. It’s almost if a game of football is more important than humanity. From where and whom did this advice begin with? I imagine a football manager/owner….probably of the white persuasion. I read with interest Gary Neville’s comments on how he reacted to Sterling having issues at 2016 and how he encouraged him with words of support; what a great player he was an so on. He also conceded he wasn’t addressing the underlying issue. The advice he gave was only in regards to getting the best out of him playing for England. Selfish reasons. Sterling has reacted though and look at what it’s done. It has shone the spotlight onto a troubling issue that is not football related but society related. This whole ‘ignore racial abuse’ advice is absolutely shocking. It may be the people offering this advice really do think this is best, for the person, for the football club – I don’t know? But what that advice does is 1) let the idiots get away with abhorrent behaviour and, more importantly, 2) negatively reinforce that what that individual is facing isn’t important. A game of football is more important. That racial equality is not important.
I could kind of understand the ‘we won’t let them win’ attitude IF the racists objective was to get a football match stopped but it isn’t. People like this are more likely to stop such appalling actions if a game was stopped (although this wouldn’t represent a root cause solution). They have no objective, they are just complete morons. When do a bunch of right wing skinheads get together and decide they want to get a match stopped? They don’t, they just want to be deplorable human beings and cause pain. It is only when mainstream society understands/agrees that stopping a football match because of sickening abuse is the right thing to do that we can move forward. People, as human beings, need to be treated as such. There is a stunning lack of empathy and compassion towards racism because most of the advice comes from rich white men who run football and the wider world – they are not a true voice for the people effected.
Racism within society is very much alive and well. People who argue otherwise are probably the people who don’t actually know what racism is and still use terms from the 70’s as if it is ok. There is a huge requirement to educate people and I would argue a subject in Racial Knowledge would have proved far more valuable than the Double Science GCSE I took. I haven’t touched a beaker since 1997. There are 2 other groups who would argue too. One group is the people profiting from the sport. The last group are the people who know they are racists but still not proud enough to admit it when they’ve been found out. A good example is the Chelsea fan who was calling Sterling a ‘Manc c*nt’ and not a ‘black c*nt’.
I could go on, there is so much to discuss. What I would say is that whilst the papers and certain writers need to take more responsibility, as they do have a duty on how they influence opinion, individuals within society itself need to take more responsibility and accountability. People need to be educated or educate themselves. We have a responsibility.
As well as high profile black players being able to speak out, being comfortable to speak out, there needs to support from outside this demographic and some acknowledgement from people in power that more needs to be done. When I think back to the protection and support that John Terry got on the Anton Ferdinand situation, well, it is just sickening. Think of the influence high profile individuals could have had then. Instead, they gave people an excuse to carry on down a dark path, condoning disgusting actions.
By the way, I am a white male in my late 30’s. I can’t pretend I know what it feels like to be marginalised and judged on the colour of my skin – it must be terrible. All I know is that is is ridiculous way to judge someone. Absolutely stupid. Think about it? Especially if you are racist……sit down and think about how you can judge someone because of their skin colour or any other aesthetic feature. It is moronic, right?
Glen, Stratford Spur
Sterling, Rooney and class
I have stopped myself from writing in with regard to Sterling and the abuse he receives as I believe the chances of my mail being published are slim, that said I have some spare minutes so here it goes.
During my football watching life there are two England footballers that stand out as having received abuse far and beyond most others, they are Wayne Rooney and David Beckham. The latter received the most horrendous abuse following the 1998 World Cup, we all remember the effigy hanging outside the pub that was splashed all over the national newspapers in the days after his sending off.
A 50 foot effigy of Wayne Rooney was burned on bonfire’s night in 2010, a bag of money in one hand and a contract in the other – this was of course during the time he was stalling on a new United contract and rumoured to be eyeing a move to Manchester City. The effigy in question was mocked up to make him look like Shrek – that is to say, not only were they burning an effigy of the guy, they were also mocking his appearance.
I ask you, would a black England male footballer ever have their appearance mocked in a similar way these days? Or an effigy of him hanging outside a pub printed all over the national press? How about an effigy of them being burnt which simultaneously mocks their appearance? It seems highly unlikely.
Back to Rooney – Rooney has a somewhat colourful rap sheet, whether it be sleeping with prostitutes (of a certain age) behind his pregnant wife’s back, or indeed just sleeping around behind her back – there is plenty in his behaviour over the past for the tabloids to exploit and sell newspapers.
What does not appear to have been mentioned much with regard to Sterling is the fact he has a very similar ‘rap sheet’ – sleeping with prostitutes behind his girlfriend’s back etc. I point this out as there are a number of similarities with regard to Rooney, which is to say he is basically the new Rooney in terms of generating stories and selling papers.
Now, am I suggesting he therefore deserves this abuse? Am I hell, the fact is the majority of newspaper editors and journalists are privately educated toff types that hate the idea a young working class lad can make millions kicking a football around. There has always bean a class issue in England and I expect there probably always will, confusing it with racism is not going to help anyone.
There is another angle to this story of course, at least the one that flared up at the weekend – it concerns a Premier League game I attended at Loftus Road in 2011, during which the Chelsea captain was accused of using the exact same phrase in the direction of Anton Ferdinand… I have not seen that mentioned much, perhaps it has, but the issue of racism at Chelsea has flared up before and I am not convinced it was dealt with satisfactorily at the time.
Tim Harrington (QPR), London
Criteria for abuse
The discussion happening in football right now following the Sterling incident is a big positive from a negative, as Gary Neville pointed out, and the mails we have seen in the F365 mailbox have been thoughtful and well-intentioned.
That said, I strongly disagree with Big D’s mail this morning – I dont think it’s at all “fair game” to call Troy Deeney or Frank Lampard fat. Its not a pressing concern, we should focus on the most abhorrent abuse and work down from there, but in theory why on Earth would it OK to randomly yell mean things at strangers about their appearance?
In my opinion, 99% of abuse situations could have the line drawn by simply asking, “Is this relevant to football?” – I don’t see how supporters could be expected to not yell at opposition players accusing them of being s***e, etc, it’s the rational flipside of supporting your own team. The moment you go beyond football and start insulting someone personally, you’ve crossed the line!
The remaining 1% of cases are nuanced, for example, is it OK to call Diego Costa a c**t? I would say yes, I’ve seen him deliberately attempt to injure various players, it’s both football-related and a valid observation (IMHO) on his character. There are various other instances where football and life will intersect and the acceptability of abuse will be unclear. But in these cases, (1) err on the side of caution, and (2) apologize and learn if you ever cross the line.
To conclude, I just want to encourage us all to try to take a measured and pragmatic approach by focusing on the specific issue of racism and racist abuse, rather than the wider issue of abuse – precisely because this tends to devolve into “where to draw the line” discussions. The same exact thing happens with the #MeToo movement – initial focus on sexual abuse and sexual harassment, conflated with more general/nebulous sexism-related issues, which leads to debate over nuanced cases when pragmatically focusing on the cases the vast majority agree on would yield quicker and more tangible results. Once achieved, we can (and must) move onto the wider issues.
Oliver (sorry for the lengthy rant) Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland
…There have been a few mails lately on where to draw the line with what is acceptable in football stadiums and with the abuse Sterling received. Now my issue with the responses are people trying to draw up lists of acceptable, non-acceptable phrases and uses of words. Which is all completely wrong. We can’t draw up rules for this.
We as fans need to stand up and call out people we hear using offensive language. You hear someone in the stands shout something racist, call them out on it. I know it takes a brave person to stand up to someone, but calling someone out lets everyone know you as fans don’t accept that behaviour. The fact that someone threw a banana skin on the pitch last week at the Emirates, did no one around them ask them “what the fuck are you doing?”, same as the Chelsea fan abusing Sterling. There are wider issues with society, education etc etc but we are letting it happen around us without doing anything.
Nick the Gooner
…I am a reasonable man. I think. I have my moments with the kids, and my wife and I will occasionally lose the plot with each other.
But I am not sure what happens when we go to football. I have been to many rugby matches at all levels, Ireland, Ulster, Schools, and I never ever lose it with the ref, the other team, or the rival supporters. It is social, convivial and friendly. After the match, we talk about it in pubs and share our favourite moments. Pints are even bought for strangers from another land!
But then I go to Old Trafford. My son was with me, aged about 11. And there it goes, my brain and intelligence, flying out the window. Standing and screaming at a decision that I have decided is so bad that I need to let the ref know, from around 100 yards away. Then a player misplaces a pass, and I’m off again. Or an opponent tackles one of our players, maybe even the one that screwed up the pass, and we reach Def Com 5!
My son, on returning to Belfast was asked by his Mum what he thought. “The swearing was brilliant!” he responded.
So there is something in football. Protective, aggressive, territorial (even if you are not from the team’s home), tribal and totally unacceptable in any other environment. Being with thousands of others that feel exactly the same must have something to do with it. But there can be a good side. The humour of a quick comment, a chant that is genuinely clever (That’s Zamora) and funny, the banter.
But it is not in any form or manner an excuse for racism, or, as others have mentioned, being simply horrible and abusive. And that line needs to be drawn bigger and bolder.
…In this morning’s mailbox, Paul Murphy demonstrated to me his youth and naivety, when he joined many others in continuing this sad trope of conflating behaviour such as that at Chelsea last Saturday night with Brexit. On my first visit to the Boleyn as a very naive 14 year old, I went with some older school mates and we went onto the North Bank. I had the 2 most terrifying hours of my life, whilst there was an ever present threat of violence, it was the sheer level of vitriol amongst all the Hammers fans that terrified me. As for the journey to and from Upton Park station, I’m surprised I ever went to an away match again. Britain hadn’t even joined the EEC then, never mind voted to leave the EU!! A further venture into the same territory some years later with two mates, (locked out of the away end) and I was appalled at the level of racist abuse, and that was toward Everard La Ronde who was playing for West Ham. By the way these are just a couple of my personal experiences, not having a go at West Ham fans. I don’t think any club has a moral high ground to cling to on this one.
It is a football thing, and there are multiple reasons and causes, and as the Copa Libertadores has shown, it is certainly not just a British thing. I think Josh AFC hit the nail on the head (Wow! Spurs fan agreeing with an Arsenal fan!!). People should be supporting their team, not spouting vitriol at the opposition. I have been to GAA matches, and also many rugby matches, and the atmosphere couldn’t be more different. A few years ago I travelled to the Ricoh with my son and a couple of Saracen supporting friends to watch Munster vs Saracens in the Heineken Cup SF, an extremely important match for both teams. The two of us sat there in our Munster shirts amongst the Saracens fans, and there was plenty of humour and genuine good hearted banter. Munster won, but at no time did either of us feel in the least bit intimidated, and believe me there were quantities of beer consumed that you wouldn’t normally see at football.
Another (to me) slightly misleading trope is blaming things on the print media. Whilst the print media does not help, as pointed out by yourselves and Raheem Sterling, the declining influence of the print media (seen in dramatically falling circulation) is leading to many people living in smaller social media ‘echo chambers’, where their own views are reflected and amplified by others with similar views. There are people with views that are less than mainstream on either side of the political spectrum who are using such echo chambers to influence people and not in a good way.
You can have ‘atmosphere’ at football matches, but only if people follow the ideas articulated by Josh, cheer your team on, be positive, and marginalise the ‘haters’.
Jim French (Spurs since ’59) Herts
…I might be alone in this opinion, but whilst I agree the Sterling abuse is worse than that aimed at Success, my point in yesterday’s mail is that neither should be accepted.
That strawberry blonde Everton fan is gonna give himself a coronary even if the effort he is exerting is just in support of a handball claim.
Football is massive to me. I haven’t missed my team playing in over a decade, with the exception of my wedding day. An email of mine was published 3 years ago at the birth of my son, asking how I can lessen the importance of football in my life without not caring about it (the football, not my life) entirely. I got roundly shouted down by fans like these as “obviously not being a proper fan”. This nonsense has to stop.
This attitude is the reason that some wives of Liverpool or Utd supporters will be on the receiving end of domestic violence this Sunday evening, dependent on the score.
Think about that when you teach your sons that foot all is more important than life or death.
One email this morning called for toned down, acceptable abuse of players. Why abuse anyone?! Toned down or otherwise. Your friends, sure, but not a stranger whom you assume to know because you saw him do an interview on soccer Saturday.
Let’s get a little perspective on everything. Sometimes Piers Morgan can appear more logical than some football fans.
F365 are part of the problem
I think it’s time to do one from F365 for a bit while you calm down and get a grip on reality.
Nothing but virtue signalling from a team helplessly lost in a sea of identity politics as evidenced by today’s mediawatch.
There is nothing to prove what was or wasn’t said. There is nothing to categorically evidence the incident. So whilst you cry about the state of humanity and whatnot, you haven’t realised that your outrage actually has no basis in fact at all. You just assume that because white men are shouting at a black man then it’s immediately racist.
I judge each situation objectively yet F365 judge each situation subjectively, from the viewpoint of a victim, to take the moral high ground and appear virtuous. This helps with their PR campaign and clickbait, but not with their readers.
Every now and again, I have a break from F365 because they tend to disappear up their own arse every once in a while. I recommend you do the same until they can find a level of impartiality that suits their status. Not to mention the ads.
One could even argue that F365’s response to the Sterling paper “racism” has actually exacerbated the situation. If you just remain impartial then the situation won’t escalate. Yet escalation means more clicks, it means more papers sold, outrage=revenue. 2 news outlets raging at each other? JACKPOT!!!
So F365 are entirely complicit in this non-story, time for a break again (10th time in 20 years – yes I really have been reading this site for that long)
Fat Man Scouse (F365 decrying racism is not a campaign or “sticking up for the little guy”, it’s clickbait pure n simple)
…Trial by media can’t be right, it shouldn’t be supported, it’s dangerous.
That’s where we are at the moment, Sterling has had his say and is fully entitled to do so, he puts his point across and has started a debate. However it doesn’t mean he is automatically right. The fans who shouted at him deserve a chance to respond and explain, they may be guilty of racism but until there is some proof, they aren’t, it is the basis that our society is built on. They have lost their jobs as a result.
I’m so uncomfortable with this concept and it can’t be the way to handle things correctly, surely debate rather than pitchforks is the answer. F365 is a good site and plenty of content I agree with but you need to find balance, you should be investigating and offering evidence, what I see is a stance that if readers don’t agree then THEY are the problem, if the accused newspapers offer an explanation it’s immediately dismissed, it’s also not a correct way to progress things in a progressive society.
If people are found to be guilty then they should be punished, but using them as a scapegoat when no crime has been proven doesn’t sit right with me at all.
Maybe the papers do have a racist agenda but without some analysis and conclusion then it is simply an opinion, where you are made to feel as though you absolutely have to take a side.
As a footnote. Personally I think there is a distinction between general negative chanting and the absolute focus those fans had on Sterling individually, they looked angry and vicious and seemed to wish him actual harm. None of the above is excusing any of that.
… It seems to me, that it’s pretty clear where the line should be drawn, and that is essentially kick out the banter. Of course, racist, sexist, homophobic slurs are not banter, but even the saying someone is a fat bastard or they’re shite in bed or whatever is needless.
Before I continue, to address the people who will say and think that I’m being snowflakeish or whatever, banter is usually used among mates, ripping the piss out of one of the ‘lads’ who knows that there is no offense or maliciousness involved. Thousands of football fans hurling abuse, of any kind, at you for playing for the opposite team, is not really banter. I mean, if some random lad says something to you on a night out, your reaction isn’t usually just, “lol! all aboard the banterbus” – you’ve a wave of thoughts cross your mind, usually not all are positive. So a footballer going about his job, shouldn’t have to put up with it.
And that’s the kicker. It’s football, it’s a game we all love, for various different reasons. I feel I watch the game with as much passion as the next person, but I don’t scream abuse or hurl insults, maybe the odd ‘fucking eejit’ if a pass is miss hit or whatever. It’s entirely performance based, and draws on nothing personal about the person. Because that is what football is, it’s business, so there is no need to take a personal approach to your insults, in the name of banter or whatever. Just enjoy the game, the highs and lows; and leave the banter at home!
Néill, (6 months on and we’re still talking about Sterling and the racist media) Ireland
As a 38 year old, middle class white man I don’treally have much of an authority to talk about racism or victimisation. But I try my best to empathise with people – and I was brought up to treat others as I’d like to be treated myself regardless of gender / race / religion etc.
But that Chelsea fan (Colin Wing) has come out saying:
“I was completely out of order, but I’ve lost my job and my season ticket now so everybody’s got what they wanted. So why can’t they leave me alone?”
That is f*cking laughable on a number of reasons:
1) Why can’t they leave you alone? Is losing your season ticket and your job adequate punishment for racially abusing someone? I’d argue not, and I hope that the justice system wholeheartedly agree.
2) Did “everybody” get what they wanted? Really? I suspect that Sterling (and others) have not yet got what they wanted – as summarised by Sterling himself in his mature (that sounds so patronising) post on Sunday morning… which is to be treated equally! I don’t think that the whole racism in society issue has been solved due to one bigot losing his job and a season ticket.
Gareth Cad, N.Wales
One rule for one
If the Chelsea fan who abused Raheem Sterling is found guilty of racism then he will quite rightly be banned from Stamford bridge and all other English stadiums for life a move I am Sure we would all agree with, on top of this he has already lost his job.
Compare with the sanction Chelsea applied when John terry was found guilty of racism, no lifetime ban and no loss of job ( same applied with Luiz Suarez- it’s almost like there are double standards being applied here.
Belter at the Bernabeu
In response to the mail yesterday from Henry (Am I now a certified football hipster?) Innes myself and a friend flew out to Madrid this weekend to attend the Athletico Madrid game but more importantly the Copa Libertadores Final at the Bernabeu. What. A. Game. We sat directly behind the goal in the Boca Juniors end about 10 rows up, scarfs in hand, and honestly it was one of the best experiences of my entire life. The football as you mentioned at times was dire, and the quality really is not good enough for a game of that stature (especially considering the circus that surrounded it over the past few weeks) but the atmosphere and passion from those fans is unrivalled around the world. The entire stadium did not stop singing and jumping for the full 120+ minutes. Even at 2-1 down in extra time and down to 10 men (thunderbastard from Quintero who completely ran the game when he game on) the fans were singing and cheering and literally did not stop. Even at the final whistle, the majority of the Boca fans stood to watch their arch rivals lift the trophy, with some even applauding.
The fixture has rightfully got a lot of bad publicity over the past few weeks, but on the day I saw or heard no trouble. The Spanish police did an incredible job of letting a handful of fans through at a time from the roads to get to the stadium, with only a couple of drunks fans swearing and shouting, but overall we heard nothing untoward at all. I would fully recommend anyone going to watch South American football, you just don’t get that type of atmosphere anywhere else in Europe. It was a fitting end to the competition and I’m incredibly glad that everyone involved (Conmebol and the Spanish authorities) were able to get the game to go ahead.
Liverpool v United
My hats off to Ted Manchester and his mail on the humility he believes United fans are meant to become accustomed to under the current state of affairs.
There are not many United supporters in Cape Town where I’m from who are ready to employ the amount of reasoning and rationality as you’ve displayed there this morning.
Its barely a shift in the status quo as we’ve got some ways to go yet to even bridge a gap for premier league titles so emphatically opened under the rampant Red Devils of the Ferguson era, we hated them, but with full disclosure here, absolutely loved to watch them.
The banter we were susceptible to as a result of the success you enjoyed in that era would be depression inducing had it occurred in today’s climate.
Never the less a recall a certain Christian Benteke Volley being the only morsel of hope I could carry to an otherwise United dominated Water Cooler street out in Office County after enduring a 3-1 defeat.
An isolated Phillipe Coutinho chipping of David De Gea held on to for all this years since its occurrence.
Now I’m not naïve enough to think that we’ll have Naby Keita rushing off to kiss a touchline camera after banging in a worldie at the weekend, in an attempt to fully embody the number which adorns the back of his shirt.
All I’m simply saying is that potless this season or not it’s nice to hear a United supporter paying homage to one of the finest sides we’ve had in a long……..well ever if stats serve.
Rudi (football is a matter of life and death) in Cape Town
Making his Marko
Re Ted Manchester saying Marko Grujic hasn’t paid off, I would say give him time. He is currently with Hertha and is definitely paying off, when he starts we play really well. He is on a different level to a lot of what the BL teams got in midfield. I can see him going back in a year or two a much more developed player, like KDB (not saying he is /will be as good but the few years as the main man in the BL did wonders for KDB)
Mel – Berlin