The flavour of the week seems to be the consideration of fans’ behaviour. Following a second consecutive home game that ended 0-0 supporters of Liverpool Insolvents booed the team off the pitch.
In the last couple of days there have been articles in the press about racist chanting at the Newcastle/Middlesboro game, a piece about the usual anti-Wenger song that the Russians copied from Manchester Bankrupt, and comments on the Manchester City airplane and Munich chants that were seen and heard against Manchester B.
It has not always been like this. When supporters of the Tiny Fantasists did their thing at Portsmouth vis a vis Sol Campbell, and everyone refused to act, from the police, through the Portsmouth manager (now Tottenham manager – strange that), and on to the Tiny club itself, there was silence.
Even now when there is talk of action following the Newcastle game, there is silence about anything that Tottenham fans do.
There are so many issues here it is hard to know where to start.
As I’ve tried to make clear in the past I am not personally against some well-honed attacks on players, but there are, to my mind limits, and that barrage went far beyond the limits. I also believe personally that the extreme anti-Semitic songs of some Arsenal supporters are unacceptable, although I personally don’t have a problem with the word Yid (on the grounds that Tot fans themselves use it about themselves). Which I suppose shows how complex it all is.
But it dose seem to me crazy that we have a situation where Bendtner is shown a card for taking his shirt off in a moment of celebration, and yet 3000 racist Tottenham fans can get away with 90 minutes endless chanting.
It does seem to me that if you go into a football match, you know what you are going to get in terms of language. (I think I mentioned that at the Manchester B game the guy behind my partner and I got extremely worked up and was calling various Manchester players “f****** ****s” repeatedly. He then went out of his way to apologise to my partner – saying sorry he hadn’t registered that there was a lady in the row in front – but as we said to him, we’ve been here for years, and it would be a bit late to take offence now).
It’s not the language as such that is the point. It is what’s behind it. When the attack on the player refers to his misbehaviour which has been writ large in the popular press, it seems to me to be perfectly ok. When the language is language that the opposition support uses about itself, it is ok. But when it is an attack on a player which focuses on his colour, or which refers back to awful events in history, then I think it does go too far.
I also feel through this analysis that there is a difference in the protection that should be given to Ashley Cole (who seems to be perfectly willing to behave in all sorts of odd ways, and let the papers write about it) and Sol Campbell (who appears to me to be a private individual who does not get involved in that sort of publicity).
Maybe I’ve misread the situation, and maybe I’m being either too sensitive or simplistic, but I do find it difficult to accept the unholy alliance of Tottenham, Portsmouth, the FA and the police who combined to take no action against the Tottenham supporters. It would be the ultimate irony if action were now taken elsewhere.
Final point: I find this is an incredibly difficult subject to tease out, and I fear my own position is riddled with contradictions and uncertainty. I don’t have the answers – I just know that I feel uneasy about the way this is all going.
Certainly if Tottenham never have any action against them for the Portsmouth situation, but any other club ever gets done for the chanting of its fans, we will have final absolute proof of the pro-Tottenham bias that exists within the FA.
As for Liverpool fans – you carry on. Booing your team when they are top of the league. Well, it must be a northern thing.
(c) Tony Attwood 2008.