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As fans, as people, as citizens, we deserve better than this

Untold Arsenal on Twitter @UntoldArsenal

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Arsenal History …… Making the Arsenal …… Arsenal Uncovered …… Arsenal History Society

By Tony Attwood

On Tuesday 6th September Mike Dye was at Wembley to watch an international game.  Following an incident which is now the subject of a police investigation he died.

Terrible events like this cause rumours to flourish.  That’s what people do, they tell stories.  The air is full of, “I heard it was…”  It is how it goes.

In such awful situations responsible journalism puts a lid on all this and sticks to facts.  As the Football Supporters Federation said, “a good journalist would understand this and report the story in a responsible and sensitive manner.”

But as Untold has repeatedly said, there are very few  good journalists any more, and hardly any decent editors.

The Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, Metro, Star, and Sun all ran the most awful pieces about the events of that night.  Perhaps I feel something extra here beyond my continuing dislike of the press not only because it was football, and it was an awful thing to happen but also because Mike Dye was a father of three, as am I.  I don’t quite know what I mean by this, or how my emotions work here, but somehow I just know the reporting of this terrible event should not have been like this.

The police have (at least at the moment I write this, which may well be a few days before you read it) said nothing about hooliganism being involved.  But that is where the papers went.  They said it was something to do with Cardiff and Swansea rivalry.

Cardiff City FC have made a formal complaint to the Press Complaints Commission.   Quite right, but it won’t make any difference.  The PCC was the body that found that the News of the World was doing nothing wrong and that there was no “credible evidence” of wholesale phone hacking.  It is a body through which the newspapers monitor the newspapers and generally find they are doing a jolly good job.  I thought the government was going to wind them up – but seemingly they are still there.

Cardiff City said: “It is our view that the tabloid attempts to draw tenuous connections of possible clashes between Cardiff City and Swansea City supporters at the Wales v England match come without any direct evidence or basis for doing so, using this as a means to cite ‘Rivalry fury’.

“This is something that we consider to be extremely disrespectful to both clubs and supporters following many positive steps being taken between both clubs in recent years, specifically in light of the sympathies being shared by both clubs and all supporters over this tragic incident. The club have taken this matter up with the Press Complaints Commission and will be contacting the tabloids named directly in due course.”

Every event can be reported in a thousand ways, and as the FSF pointed out the Daily Telegraph did report facts and appealed for “rumours and whispers” to end.  The South Wales Echo and the Western Mail, the two dominant papers in south Wales, played it calmly.

It seems that at the following Cardiff City v Doncaster Rovers match the fans raised £10,000 in a bucket collection – and the Rovers fans did their bit.  Not the stuff of headlines in the Sun, but it should be.

FSF chair Malcolm Clarke said: “This was a shocking incident and for a fan to go to a game and never return is almost unimaginable. Then, instead of being able to grieve in peace, Mike Dye’s family and friends had to watch as someone they loved was subjected to an appalling character assassination to which he could not respond. They deserve an apology. As a positive, conciliatory gesture we would also suggest the newspapers consider making a donation to Mike Dye’s funeral fund.”

I have approached this little article unsure of whether, in highlighting the awfulness of the Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, Metro, Star, and Sun, I too am demeaning the memory of a fellow supporter.  Perhaps I should just pay my respects and leave it at that.  Of course, although I have no contact with Mr Dye’s family and only know Cardiff City FC through having supported Arsenal there a couple of times, but I do feel desperate that this could have happened.  It doesn’t matter who you support, no one deserves this.

But in the end I decided to write this, because what those papers do is so awful, that somehow we do need to find a way of getting them to realise that there is a point where one has to stop and make some sort of attempt to get back to a more civilised view of life.

As ordinary people, as family members, as citizens, as fans who go to football games, we surely deserve better than this.

13 comments to As fans, as people, as citizens, we deserve better than this

  • Laundryender

    A top piece Tony, I agree with every word you have written, football supporters in this country are regarded as no more than morons by the gutter press, we should all follow the Liverpool example and bugger them off.

  • I agree with Laundryender (both on this article and doing what the scousers do).

    Tony, can we have a “Don’t Buy The Sun” banner on this site please?

  • bob

    Laundryender,
    For those many who visit here and don’t catch your reference to the Liverpool example as a counter to the media swill, please describe what happened at Liverpool and how it created the boycott that remains in place to this day (yes?) Thank you. I’m not a Brit, but coming from you it would make a deeper impression. When I first researched back into it, I was so proud that Liverpool fans stood up, drew the line, and took action.
    Tony,
    I’m deeply moved by your article. The red tops have, again, crossed the line. They are determined to play to people’s worst angels and keep society in a state of slobbering and cynical mutual hatred, instead of mutual empathy, support and cooperation. We are all Mike Dye…We are all Mike Dye…

  • sahil

    Very touching article Tony
    Can anyone tell me what exactly the liverpool fans did? I am unaware of that.

  • Rhys Jaggar

    Sahil

    Basically, The Sun’s Editor, Kelvin McKenzie, at the time of Hillsborough, wrote an extremely inflammatory front page piece about the causes of the disaster, which Merseyside took gross offence to.

    So they decided, en masse, not to buy The Sun any more.

    It wasn’t a campaign of one week, it was still going strong 20 years later.

    One of the reasons that journalism is going off the rails, I’m afraid, is that the industry is undergoing fundamental change which obviously has winners and losers.

    The traditional print media has been slowly dying for decades and, actually, the most restrained titles make huge losses. The Times and Sunday Times are subsidised by The Sun and formerly, the NOTW. I’m not quite sure how the Guardian is financing its losses. The Independent has a new billionaire oligarch owner who was formerly a KGB officer. So I wouldn’t be too surprised if they know how to bug the general public!

    The traditional media barons now, of course, have websites, but these are driven by page impression-based advertising, which of course means stories are written to drive traffic not to educate and inform. So long as people rely on those sources for information and aren’t able to compare with other sources (the reality in most people’s lives), the poor standards will go unchecked.

    Another pressure has been new media (in which I include Sky) seeking to cherry pick the profitable parts of the media, which makes them rich but society ulitmately unbalanced. Sky started solely with football, which is big business. They gradually added other profitable sports coverage and made lots of losses on Sky News. They lambasted the BBC who were required to also provide chldren’s progammes, minority interest programmes etc etc. Their aim is to crush the BBC and get hold of all the things they want, but nibbling only the profitable bits, leaving the free-to-air with the morsels. It’s the 65% society principle. The effect is ghettos and, ultimately, riots.

    The ultimate reality of a media whose raison d’etre is making money is that you hold your audiences captive at a particular emotional age with particular prejudices. Far easier to make money pandering to right wing drivel (or left wing drivel for that matter) than to actually engage, challenge, and enlighten, isn’t it? Especially if those who buy see it more as light entertainment or a comic………if you got serious they might not buy anymore!

    The real question for newspapers now is ‘what are we actually FOR anymore?’

    I have better information about climate science from various websites around the world than I get from UK media. Ditto information about science, education, medicine, sport and food.

    I’m not an affiliated political party member to either Labour or Conservative so I take the political brainwashing with an enormously large piece of salt. I use media blogs as a way to challenge the establishment, not to be educated any more. Because I can see their deceptions and it makes me angry.

    I guess people who wonder how to challenge the media have three questions to ask themselves:

    1. Do I want the media to reform or do I simply want most of them to die?
    2. Do I want a source of news/inforrmation which is radically different to anything out there and, if so, am I prepared to either set it up or subscribe to those who will do it on my behalf?
    3. Do I organise e-petitions/mass signature letters to send to those who appear offended by a media line, to reassure them that many people do not feel that way?

    At the end of the day, those are all choices for individual people to make.

    I know, full well, that my PC has been bugged by many national titles but I also know, categorically, that Arsene Wenger has received that information also, without my permission.

    I therefore have a healthy skepticism about how this society works and I am less likely to see things in black and white than many.

    Everybody makes their own choices, after all, based on the information that they have available to them at the time…….

  • Shard

    I remember reading this story in the newspaper in my country, and something about it just felt off. I found it a little strange I guess that a club rivalry would surface like that in an international match and cause death. The media should be ashamed of themselves. But we all know they have no shame. They just move on to the next victim. All in the name of information and freedom of speech.

  • sahil

    Rhys Jaggar

    So many thanks to you sir, what an insightful comment. I share your thoughts on the media, you are a good man.

  • RedGooner

    Tony ( Great Article ) freedom of the press abused by those with little or no self respect.

    Thats why people visit web sites like this for their football info and avoid the sun mirror any many others like the plague.

    Hopefuly people continue to avoid them and sooner or later they will see that supporters are educated and do care forcing them to change thier ways.

  • steve

    Please read today’s Observer for further evidence of biased reporting. Both the match report from Amy Laurence and comment from Paul Heywood deserve analysis from someone much more perceptive and articulate than me i.e Anne. Something that immediately comes to mind is the comment that Arteta already ” betrays frustration ” in Heywood’s column. WTF is that supposed to mean.

    Its not only the red tops that are crap

  • Gulp

    @ Rhys medi and football is the classic bread and circus for the people. Along as people can read crap in the sun, watch pop idol and watch football they are happy. Now if footy however becomes to xpensive for the masses we got a problem. Many a yong and angry man takes his aggression out by cheering for his home club. It’s a great way of canalising aggression. Who has time to riot when footy is on? Take th entertainment away however, and we get anarchy. Rome always entertained it’s citizens. So Britain does today. Mindless? Yea but the masses stay more or less quiet. Nobody thinks critical thoughts in a society where Premier league and pop idol is seen as more important than the economical crisis. It’s a dream situation for any elite. Really. Heck the economical crisis does not even exist! In theand of sky and PL footy!

  • critic

    rhys dude leaves gr8 comments.
    Nice writeup.

  • Gooner murphy

    These “news papers” will do and say anything to sell their Rag,s Boycott the lot of them and write to their advertisers

  • Thanks for your kind comments – obviously I wrote the piece before I went away on holiday for a week, and Walter posted it in his position as editor, hence my lack of reply to the comments.