16 is pathetic but it is a start

Police investigating the activities of Tottenham Hotspur supporters guilty of homophobic and racist chanting at Portsmouth have finally, after months of pressure from this and other blog sites, released pictures of 16 suspects today.

That the event took place on 28 September and that only 16 of the hundreds – perhaps thousands – who joined in the chanting have been identified shows how pathetic the attempt to deal with this has been.

Fans sought by police over indecent chanting against Sol Campbell. Photograph: Hampshire police/PA  Superintendent Neil Sherrington said: “As part of our investigation into indecent chanting at Fratton Park, we have identified 16 people we would like to speak to.

“Our inquiry is aimed at identifying and putting before the court those individuals who engaged in unacceptable behaviour at this public event.

“Their abuse caused distress to some supporters and was targeted at an individual.

“We want to send a clear message that abuse of this kind will not be tolerated and that we are taking robust action.

“I’d urge anyone who recognises these people to contact us as soon as possible.”

Fans sought by police over indecent chanting against Sol Campbell. Photograph: Hampshire police/PA The offence of indecent or racist chanting at a designated football match under the Football Offences Act 1991 can be punished by a fine of up to £1,000 and can also lead to ban on attending matches.

Anyone with information should contact Operation Decorum on 0845 0454545 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111

Anyone who can identify any of the hundreds of thousands of other Tottenham Hotspur supporters who joined in the chanting should also contact those numbers.

The pictures comes from the Hampshire police.

2 Replies to “16 is pathetic but it is a start”

  1. Sixteen out of thousands. It would be interesting to find out what criteria the police used to single out these sixteen. Some or all will eventually be identified (at time of writing it appears to be one). Some of those identified will be arrested. Some of those arrested might be charged. An even smaller number might just get prosecuted but if that pitiful few ever get to court you can already hear the defence counsel arguing that they were only joining in with everyone else (thousands!), that they weren’t the ringleaders etc and that it’s unfair to single them out and I can see a court agreeing with them. They’ll end up with a slap on the wrist but become instant martyrs to the Spuds fans. Of course they’ll probably get banned from all football matches but will that do any wider good?

    Most of these people are probably not intentionally racist or homophobic. The sheep mentality that infects sections of any team’s supporters is the problem. They don’t realise that whether they mean it or not, what they are doing IS offensive, it IS racist, it IS homophobic, not just to the intended target but to many thousands if not millions of other people.

    It has always seemed to me that the answer is to hit the clubs, like UEFA very, very occasionally does. When appreciable numbers of away supporters are clearly offending, make them play the next away game with no traveling support – and escalate that for repeat offences – but make the club still buy the tickets so it doesn’t hit the takings of the other club. More significantly, do the same for home games when the home support goes too far. The hit on the club’s takings would be dramatic and much more likely to make them deal with the problem seriously but hopefully it would get all the other supporters angry enough at having had their match taken off them to police the situation themselves. You’d still get the odd idiot trying to start something but very few would join in. With any luck they’d be shouted down.

    It might be more appropriate to use the sanction the next time the fixture is repeated. This would apply to all forms of abuse – when we go to Old Trafford later this season and they start the Wenger insults, that should trigger a ban on home fans for next season’s visit. Old Trafford with only the away section in use would be a great reminder to all clubs and supporters about what is acceptable banter and what is out of order.

    Now to end all wars and world famine….

  2. Something is better than nothing Tony as I really thought they were just going to let it drop. Maybe it will make others think twice about the boundary between banter and abuse.

Comments are closed.