Arsenal outmanoeuvred by Tottenham PR machine again

By Tony Attwood

In 2008 Hampshire police announced the investigating of racial and homophobic abuse directed by Tottenham fans towards Sol Campbell at a Portsmouth v Tottenham game.

The police said they would report the matter to the Football Association because it was not possible to make arrests due to the sheer numbers chanting.

The chant, which was printed in the Guardian, but which I did not repeat when I reported this matter at the time, and won’t do now as it is too disgusting and appalling to reprint (and believe me I am not normally squeamish in any regard) claims that the player has contracted aids through his sexual activities, and that the singers are glad he is about to die.

Five arrests were made later following photo identification of a handful of fans, but Tottenham fans have continued with the song and the chants without any action being taken against them at all.  The footage of the game is still available, and most of those in the enclosure would have bought their tickets through Tottenham H itself, and therefore the matter of matching the individuals shown singing on film against those on the files of the club is not difficult.

There was no excuse for not arresting these people, banning them for life from Tottenham games, and charging them under a variety of offences relating to homophobic behaviour.

The police assertion that they could take no action because everyone was doing it, also needed to be investigated but never was either by the club or the EPL or the FA.  I am not sure such statements are heard when we debate police action regarding political demonstrations where dealing with large numbers of people does not seem to be a problem for them.  They have their tactics, and they execute them.  Why they opted out this time, I don’t know, unless the police are themselves institutionally racist and homophobic – and I am not alleging this, because I really don’t know.

But the incident raised the point that if nearly everyone was doing it, as the police report suggested, why then did the FA do nothing to ban Tottenham from taking these thoroughly odious people to games.  A ban on away support for Tottenham matches would hurt the decent minority of their travelling fans – and that is regrettable, but the majority who seem to enjoy this sort of thing, would also be hurt, and that would be helpful, in my view.

I have always opposed this type of chanting, and have always agreed, and said so on this site, that the song “Spurs are on their way to Auschwitz” is disgraceful at every level, and I would support the arrest of, and banning orders on, everyone who joins in or allows it.  We’ve had that debate here too.

But Tottenham’s reaction to such matters has always been a difficult one to grasp.  Following the suggestion that something should be done about Tottenham supporters calling themselves Yid Army, last year, the Tottenham  executive director Donna Cullen said (according to the Guardian) that the initial focus should be on the opposition supporters using anti-Semitic language rather than the club’s own fans who have sought to reclaim it.

“It is unthinkable and wholly unacceptable that, in this day and age, supporters are subjected to anti-Semitic abuse such as hissing to imitate the gas chambers used during the Holocaust in the Second World War,” she said.

“We look forward to an informed and proper debate with Kick It Out, stakeholders and the key authorities to raise greater awareness and put in place the stringent measures needed to stop anti-Semitic abuse in football.”

Now skip forward to last weekend and we find Arsenal and TH have issued a joint statement condemning the offensive chants from both sets of supporters during Sunday’s north London derby and vowed to ban the culprits.

Arsène Wenger got the usual disgraceful abuse he gets everywhere, while some Arsenal supporters sang about the gun attack on the Togo team bus which Emmanuel Adebayor survived.

Harry Redknapp, as usual, was utterly one sided in talking about Adebayor although the club has said that a few fans from both parts of WHL were thrown out.

But now here’s the bit where Arsenal got out gunned by TH yet again.  This is the Guardian’s report…

“In line with the club’s zero-tolerance policy on abusive chanting, they have promised to ban any guilty party for life, while Arsenal also expressed their disappointment.

“Both clubs were extremely disappointed to hear the chants from supporters at yesterday’s game,” the joint statement read. “Neither club tolerates foul language, racist chanting, homophobic chanting or any anti-social behaviour from its supporters. We shall be working closely with each other to identify the individuals involved.”

“It is club policy to ban fans that are found guilty of abusive chanting,” a Tottenham spokeswoman said. “We evicted several fans at the time during the match. The way we deal with large numbers is we take out one or two of the ring-leaders who are initiating the chants.”

This is utter and total drivel.   If TH really don’t like this sort of thing, they have had all the time in the world to do something about their travelling support.  After all, the police said they couldn’t do anything about the Portsmouth incident BECAUSE THERE WERE TOO MANY FANS CHANTING.

Of course Arsenal need to reject all disgusting chanting and deal with fans seriously.   But our PR operation needs to make sure that we are always distanced from TH.  We do not under any circumstances want to be thought of as a club that is a disgracefully accepting of homophobia and racism as Tottenham has shown itself to be over the Portsmouth incident.

6 Replies to “Arsenal outmanoeuvred by Tottenham PR machine again”

  1. What annoys me is that for years the systamatic, disgusting abuse directed toward Arsene Wenger at every ground around the country has hardly warranted a mention by the collective media but as soon as dear old ‘Arry’ highlights the problem, albeit from a one sided Tottenham perspective, the press immediately jump and the issue of obsene chanting becomes massive news. Its good old ‘Arry’ and Tottenham who have gained the moral high ground with Arsenal left hanging onto their shirt tails.

  2. The fact is, Arry spends hours each day cultivating his friends in the media.
    Can you imagine Wenger calling into Talksport, of hanging out of a car window in an interview with Sky about not having signed Kaka at 11.45pm on transfer deadline day – and yes, that did happen.
    Personally, I would hate to see Wenger behaving in such a way, but thee is often a cost to principled behaviour.
    But who knows, the day may soon come when Arry needs all the friends he can get.

  3. I wouldn’t call it being outmanoeuvered though. It is just another example of how the media just wants to portray Arsenal in a negative light. Even before the match, Harry Redknapp had defended Adebayor’s celebration/incitement (for which he was punished) by saying that he was getting dog’s abuse from Arsenal fans. This is akin to stoking the fires ahead of a derby. Adebayor was made the issue pre match by Redknapp and the media. Of course there was no mention of the Spurs fans coming up with and singing the elephant song, nor of him being racially abused when he was with Real Madrid. It was all about Arsenal fans being boorish, racist, crossing a line, and that is the same narrative after the match. Any surprises there?

    Arsenal can only do what they have done. They cannot take action without Spurs’ help because it was Spurs’ ground. And if Arsenal don’t join with Spurs, then they’ll be branded as supporting the chants. Whatever action Arsenal take will be downplayed, and whatever statements Spurs make will be shown as proof of their efforts in that regard. I’m not even bothered by it, it is so transparent.

    Here’s hoping that Arsenal do what’s right, and do what they can to put a stop to inappropriate chants. The media and Spurs be damned. Let them have their own ‘you scratch my back’ drama between themselves.

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