By Tony Attwood
So Jack has been fined £40,000 for shouting “What do you think of Tottenham?” and using the word “shit” in a public place.
Which is the same amount as Suarez was fined for racism by the FA. It really makes me wonder about the FA’s scale of values.
The Suarez incident occurred on 15 October 2011 during the Liverpool / Man U game. Luis Suárez was charged with, and found guilty of, racially abusing Patrice Evra by an FA commission. He was fined £40,000 and banned for eight games. OK Jack wasn’t banned, but then he wasn’t playing when he used the word Tottenham in what is now thought to be an offensive manner.
Rio Ferdinand was fined £25,000 by the FA and suspended for three matches for a tweet that referred to the mother of a Twitter user with the Caribbean slang term “sket”, which means “a promiscuous girl or woman”. He was also fined £45,000 for calling Ashley Cole a “choc ice”.
All this fining stuff seemed to start when the FA did Ryan Babel of Liverpool for posting a photograph of the referee Howard Webb photoshopped a Manchester United shirt. He was fined £10,000. They took the money, used it to pay off a fraction of the debts incurred in the building of Wembley and thought, hey, this is a clever wheeze, and have never looked back.
Ashley Cole was fined £90,000 in 2012 for what seemed to me the one reasonable thing he has ever said in his life when he called the FA as a “bunch of twats,” although the evidence that the FA questioned on that occasion was probably a load of old cobblers.
Tottenham Hotspur’s Benoit Assou-Ekotto was fined £50,000 for his message in support of Nicolas Anelka’s “quenelle” gesture which is associated with anti-Semitism.
And this seems to me to be the point. Yes, absolutely, I want action against racism and anti-Semitism and other outlawed forms of behaviour. But when the fines handed out for such matters start to equate with the fine for shouting “What do you think of Tottenham?” then I really do think that the FA have reached the point of no return.
Consider this one… Aston Villa were fined £30,000 for failing to control their players in the game with Manchester United on 20 December 2014. That is apparently less worse than calling out “What do you think of Tottenham?”
And to go down the scale Sheffield United were fined the sum of £4,000 for failing to control their officials in a fixture on Tuesday 16 December 2014.
And here is an interesting one. Edward Bishop of Ipswich was fined for multiple betting offences – he was fined £3000.
Now betting offences are very closely related to match fixing – and yet the fine was only £3000. But then again the FA has a very, very long running association with not dealing fully with match fixing, going all the way back to 1915 when Liverpool and Manchester United were found guilty of match fixing to such a huge extent that they engineered the relegation of Chelsea. The penalty on that occasion was … nothing. Not a sausage.
Indeed it is hard to make any sense of the FA’s fining system whatsoever. Blackpool chairman Karl Oyston was fined £40,000 for five breaches of aggravated misconduct after sending abusive and insulting text messages, with references to disability, to a Blackpool FC supporter in November last year.
Now that starts to feel right to me. But not when we notice that Oyston’s fine and Jack’s fine are the same.
So asking the question “What do you think of Tottenham?” in a public place while knowing the answer will be “Shit” is worthy of a £40,000 fine, along with these various other offences like abusing the disabled, anti-Semitism and racism? Seemingly so.
The fact is the “What do you think” chant is one that is heard before, during and after every game. It had originally a certain level of amusement (at a very low level) with the funny voice “That’s all right” line, but after hearing it 20,000 times over the years it is rather dull.
It is not banned, because at the moment there is no offence of being abusive to an area of London. In fact it is just rather ordinary. But it makes one wonder about the FA’s scale of values.
Supposing one of the players on the bus had said, “It’s happened again.” What would the fine for that be? Is the phrase “It’s happened again, Tottenham Hotspur it’s happened again” now to be considered offensive?
It actually reminds me of the Not the 9 O’Clock news joke where PC Savage gives a list of charges against Winston Kodogo.
Walking on the cracks in the pavement.
Loitering with intent to use a pedestrian crossing.
Wearing a loud shirt in a built up area during the hours of darkness.
Possession of an offensive wife.
That seems to be about the FA’s level. Although I doubt if they would get the joke.