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By Tony Attwood
The Scottish Football Association has revealed police are investigating threats made towards members of the judicial panel that imposed a 12 month transfer ban on Rangers (who were found guilty of bringing Scottish football into disrepute).
The Rangers manager, Ally McCoist, had previously launched an appeal for members of the anonymous panel to be named. This despite the fact that the clubs had voted in favour of such a system last season.
The names of those involved in the process have now indeed been published as Mr McCoist wished – hence the threats. Anti-terrorist police have held a meeting with SFA officials.
In a statement, the SFA said: “Directors of the Scottish FA, whose private details have been published on internet sites … have, themselves, been victims of abusive communication.”
In a different environment Mr Wenger spoke about the abuse he receives at some games – especially at Stoke, where it seems people can say what they want with impunity.
I have used this blog for a couple of years to bring up the case, over and over again, of Tottenham supporters who gave a level of homophobic abuse to Sol Campbell at a game at Portsmouth that was beyond anything I have ever known before. We even printed the pictures of some of the people involved – but little was done.
The official police reaction was that there were too many people involved in the abuse for them to be able to do anything about it. Tottenham removed ticket facilities from a handful – 99% of those involved went unpunished.
Now before anyone gets too excited by my accusations, let me add that although I am not a regular at away matches I do go occasionally, and sit or stand with everyone else who buys their away tickets through Arsenal. I know what Arsenal fans chant and sing, and it includes some fairly abusive commentaries. It also includes regular use of the highly problematic word “yid” which we have also debated here before.
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But I have never heard anything from Arsenal away support anywhere remotely like the abuse that Sol Campbell got at Portsmouth, or which Mr Wenger receives on occasion at Stoke and a few other grounds.
But what is to be done when vast numbers of people want to break the law together? Certainly the level of chanting to which I am referring goes far beyond the realms of “threatening and abusive behaviour” Is it ok to think that the context is different when it is in a football ground?
Of course it is right for the police to take immediate action against the people who have published threatening remarks about the SFA’s committee. My question is, what about the rest? What about action when vast areas of a stadium unite in the most appalling level of abuse of the type that you never, ever, hear at Arsenal.
Personally I think we have got everything utterly back to front – and let me try and illustrate this through an example:
Because of the requirements of TV in Spain a match between Sevilla and Levante had its kick off changed to a late-night slot. Nothing, it seemed, should interfere with Real Mad v Barca.
So Sevilla fans decided to protest. Just after the match finally began, supporters at one end threw hundreds of tennis balls onto the pitch and a banner was put up: “Stop the match, Mourinho is talking”.
This wasn’t the first time such protests have been made. About 18 months back, fans of FC Basel did the same thing. There the reason for the tennis balls was apparent: the time was changed because of the start of a local tennis tournament. Now it seems tennis balls have a symbolism of their own.
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