By Walter Broeckx
From the moment Petr Cech signed for us I was interested to see the reaction of Chelsea supporters. Now we have our own private Chelsea supporter over here but unless I have missed it he didn’t comment too much on Cech coming to Arsenal. He did when the rumour was spread and gave his opinion on the one weakness he had spotted and on the many strong things he had noticed all these years.
But alas for Cech things inevitably got a bit overheated. Might be the weather of course that causes people to overreact and lose their minds as we are not really used to the extreme hot temperatures we are having for the moment. But still what was said and published on the internet and especially on twitter was pretty disgusting to see.
Cech received death threats. Even worse his family was also threatened. I am not going to repeat the threats but it was nasty and you probably have seen or heard about it. In fact I have heard that one person has been arrested based on what he wrote and others have quickly been thrown out of Twitter or have deleted their account in shame. I still hope that they will not escape the punishment they deserve.
Saying someone is a traitor as we have done in the past ourselves when we talked about how Fabregas or Van Persie have treated Wenger by stabbing him in the back with a dagger, is one thing. We, or at least Untold, never called for bodily harming one of the traitors. A player who has been our captain, pretending to be not just a Gunner but a Gooner. And who then forced his way out of Arsenal just when the team and the club needed them most.
This reminds me of the story of one of the board members of the official supporters club of which I am the president (Arsenal Belgium). He works as a youth coach for a top division club in Belgium and they went to play in the tournament a few weeks ago that has Van Persie’s name on it in Holland. And as Van Persie was there, as he always is when the tournament is played, he got the chance to meet him face to face. And on such occasions of course everyone is just licking whatever body part Van Persie is presenting to them, saying nothing but nice words.
But our board member just gave him a hand and said : ‘I once was a supporter of you’ and the smile on his face ran away in an instant. He knew what, why and when in an instant. Of course Van Persie knows deep down inside what his actions meant. I could add that since that day Arsenal have won more trophies than Manchester United. But that is another story. But the behaviour from Van Persie on how he treated Arsenal and Wenger will haunt him for the rest of his days. And all that for one PL medal. One he could and should have won with Arsenal if he would have had the guts to stay.
I think that is the way to act if you feel annoyed by the behaviour of one of our ex-players. You can tell them in simple and polite words what you think of them. No need to say that you want him dead and kiss his family goodbye for the last time and other explicit threats.
Now of course we, as decent Arsenal fans, can be upset about such threats. We should be upset. As it is passing a line that you shouldn’t pass. Certainly not in the crazy world we are living in these days where too many people are being killed for …. yeah for what…. sad, sad, sad, sad…..
There are enough lunatics out there who seem to take a lot of pleasure in killing others for not having the right thoughts, skin colour, believes or even having the same believe but a different version….
So no need to step over the line of death threats or bodily harm. But that it heart a few Chelsea supporters can be understandable. So if they put a picture on line with Cech and give him a snake face I can accept it and even understand their feelings. We have been there also. Losing one of your legends to a nearby rival can hurt.
But when I heard about the death threats I immediately thought about Ramsey and Wenger. Because our own ‘fans’ (I will not call them supporters as they clearly were not supportive…) have been doing the same thing for years with Aaron and Arsène.
I remember a nasty character twittering each time the official Arsenal twitter said that the cameras are in place for the press conference who replied with words that went close to or were the exact words (can’t remember them): “and hopefully the snipers are in place also”. After a somewhat heated discussion when I called him out on that, I blocked him so don’t know if he is still out there.
But what is worse? Wishing Wenger dead when he is still representing the club you claim to support or wishing a player dead that left your club for a rival club. BOTH ARE COMPLETELY WRONG but let us not pretend that all Gooners are saints when it comes to such things. Alas….
Or what about Ramsey? When he went through his learning period after recovering from his terrible injury. The abuse and ‘die you ********’ he had to endure by Arsenal supporters still make me throw up my breakfast when I think of it. On more than one occasion I have seen some ‘fans’ wishing him to break his leg again and never being able to play football again.
Yes, we should strongly condemn the threats against Cech. But we should also remember that we have such vile persons in our own fan base. I have always fought such behaviour and tried to expose them. And I will continue to say that such things are not acceptable. We can call people names and indeed that is a bit part of being a supporter of a club, but never go along the sad road some have taken. I really do hope the police and justice department can punish them.
And maybe we should judge the Arsenal supporters by the same words as Cech did about those Chelsea ‘fans’. By calling them out as not really supporters.
Footnote: Some time back, following one particular incident the publishers of Untold sought police advice on what to do about threats made online. Their official view was simple: if someone writes something on line which would be illegal if it were said face to face, then it is a crime, and must be reported, along with full details of the source of the comment (via the IP address etc etc). I believe most major on-line forums follow this view now. Tony
2 July 1999: Steve Bould sold to Sunderland for £500,000. He had played 287 league games for Arsenal. He returned in July 2001 as youth team coach, became head of the under 18s, and then Arsene Wenger’s assistant.