Arsenal lose, and thus we are back to the land of abuse.

By Tony Attwood

The headlines revealed in the aftermath of the Arsenal defeat in the Europa league tell a story of their own.  They include…

Arsenal are out of Europa League because of one player – fan theory
Daily Star
Arsenal flops abused at airport by their own fans after Rennes defeat
Ben Arfa: Why I laughed at Emery
Sky Sports
[Video] ‘****** rubbish’ – Arsenal players abused by their own fans at airport
Arsenal Station
He barely did anything: Player ratings vs Stade Rennais FC
Daily Cannon
Even when not discussing Arsenal the impact was significantly anti-Arsenal…  Contrast those stories  above with

Manchester United receive triple injury boost ahead of crucial Arsenal clash

That last was in Football.London.   

So I wonder, what was the point of all that?  What is the point of being abusive on line or, if you prefer, reporting someone else’s abuse on line without commenting on what lies behind the abuse.

Abuse is of course part of daily behaviour in the 21st century – quite possibly more so than in earlier times, although as far as I know, no one has generated an index of abusive behaviour across the ages.  As to why people do it, there are quite a few different psychological explanations given but most psychologists agree generally what makes a person abusive.

The fact is that abusive people tend to fit into certain personality characteristics – which generally they deny, not least because these analyses by psychologists tend to be rather unflattering.  But here they are in summary…

The commonly agreed view is that abusers feel powerless, and the one thing they all have in common is that their motive is to grab power over their victim of their abuse.  Normally this is because they don’t feel that they have enough personal power and they are poor at more non-abusive forms of communication.  So an angry supporter with limited powers of expression becomes abusive towards the players of his team.   When the team win, the supporters generate praise for themselves (“we are the Arsenal” – the “we” being the singing fans) alongside praise of individuals in the team.  When the team loses it is never the supporters’ fault but the players.

This leads us to see easily why footballers can be the focus of abuse: the person in the ground at a football match has no power over the way the players play, or the way the referee conducts the game, and so they have to find some way to express themselves.  Abuse is the outcome.

Now there is nothing particularly 21st century about this.  If you are familiar with Arsenal’s history you will know that following incidents at Arsenal’s ground on 26 January 1895  the League ordered Arsenal’s ground to be shut for the rest of the season.  The penalty was reduced on appeal but the ground was still shut for a period because of the abusive behaviour of part of the crowd.

So powerlessness across the ages can result in abuse.   But of course while most supporters are powerless, not every supporter in the ground utters abuse and not every journalist writing in a blog or a newspaper column reports abuse.  Generally abusers are of a certain personality type and have what psychologists have long recognised as a particular profile…

First, they tend to be very insecure and often very needy.  They are either not in a relationship but craving one, or in relationship but having unrealistic expectations of a relationship.

Second, these people are, in their general lives distrustful and can often be found to be much more jealous in certain events than other people – and as in the cases we see above, they can be verbally abusive.

Third, and underlying all this, there tends to be a desperate need to be seen to be right and to be in control.   They can often be highly possessive, hypersensitive and when questioned about their abusive behaviour can react aggressively, rather than be able to debate the matter reasonably and openly.

Indeed attempting to open a discussion on abusive behaviour is often the quickest way to find out how abusive and indeed hypersensitive a person is.   A non-abusive person can generally debate the issue of abuse reasonably while the abusive person can be very aggressive if it is suggested that the individual might be abusive or if there is widespread abuse to be found in certain situations, such as football matches.

Abusive behaviour also has a link to aggression, and cruetly to animals or children but when the abusive person has their behaviour pointed out to them, aside from getting angry they can also blame their behaviour on others.  (“He looked at me in a funny way,” is the classic example).

Therefore if headlines such as those above are challenged with it being pointed out that they are a) abusive and b) unlikely to be helpful to the player or the team or the club, and thus unlikely to raise Arsenal’s chances of getting into the next round of the Europa league, there is a tendency towards anger and/or blaming others.

The typical journalist reponse is to suggest that the writer is just reporting the news – ignoring the fact that all journalists and all editors choose which news to report and which to ignore.   The Daily Star does this by passing off the story as “fan theory”.   But in reporting this the Star decides to make it news, and thus become part of the abuse.  The number of fans who hold this theory, as a percentage of Arsenal fans who watched the game on TV, is probably around 0.001%.

This of course does not mean that one cannot report and comment on poor displays, but such commentary does not have to be abusive – and the headlines cited above were all abusive.   Overall they tell us a lot about the writer and the publisher, and their personality problems, but little about the game.

And just in case you thought I selected the only abuse related headlines, here are a couple more that came in since I started the piece…

‘Liability’, ‘He’s killing us’: Some Arsenal fans absolutely tear into 26-year-old after Rennes …HITC

‘That’s a guy who’s not there next season’- Fletcher stunned by what he spotted from Arsenal ace T
his Is Futbol

29 Replies to “Arsenal lose, and thus we are back to the land of abuse.”

  1. What’s the point of this article? Most normal people are not abusive, abnormal people are – seems like you’re merely stating the obvious. Do you think you’re going to change the world? Doubt it.

    As for the line “When the team loses it is never the supporters’ fault but the players” – under what circumstances would it be the supporters’ fault?

  2. I like the line “The typical journalist response is to suggest that the writer is just reporting the news…” as you point out since when has that been true.

    Very few journalists in the mainstream media actually report anything near the truth, it is all comment dressed up to look like news.

    Great post and I agree with all you say

  3. Pete I think when you are not able to see the point of an article it is probably best to stop reading and walk away. But still, to answer your question about under what circumstances it could be the supporters fault… players can be made very nervous in their performances when they are regularly booed and attacked by their own supporters – and so performances decline. Thus in part bad performances can partly put down on occasion to the supporters.

  4. Being abnormal does not necessarily mean a person is abusive.

    I am more than a little sensitive to use of the word “normal”, and that was long before finding out I was not neurotypical.

    It is not just a minority of fans being abusive to players or the team. There is a part of the community which feels that they need to come to place like Untold, to push their agenda and “create power for themselves”.


    On a more positive note, has a blurb about our U16 team reaching the final in their league. Congratulations young Gunners!

    There is another note up there, documenting our 3-0 win over Chel$ea for the U18s. Congratulations to that Gunners team as well!


    I do have a nit to pick with respect to many articles in the Arsenal/News. There is a huge tendency to introduce some kind of summary to all or part of an article there, and the actual summary ends up being a graphic of some kind.

    I don’t allow javascript for many websites, and I tend to only allow it for a short period of time and then turn it off.

    If I have the mouse “hover” over this graphic, there is no “alt” field to describe the image. There is no text after the graphic, describing what the graphic shows.

    It is all just a big “hole”. Fine, I run Linux for an OS and I am a bit pedantic about security, XSS (Cross Site Scripting) and similar things. But is my view of the Arsenal website what the management of Arsenal want?

  5. Pete

    “…..under what circumstances would it be the supporters’ fault?”

    If you are dismissing the jeering and abuse of players as detrimental to a players performance, then under the same logic you must also dismiss cheering and praise as inspirational to a players performance ?

    If that is the case you must have a very poor understanding of human nature.

    Of course it isn’t the ‘fault’ of the fans alone, but the kind of abusive behaviour we have seen aimed at certain players and our managers cannot do any of them any good can it, ergo it must do them harm.

    Of course the odd individual is unaffected but they are few and far between, especially when it is relentless, disproportionate or just down right vindictive.

  6. This is what PEAKPERFORMANCE IN SPORT has to say about critisism:

    “A study published in The Sport Journal, found that distractions and criticism can drain mental energy, decreasing performance.”

    “One way to focus better is to decrease anxiety levels. Relaxation training and meditation prior to the game can block out what’s going on off of the field.”

    “No athlete is immune to criticism and pressure. Yet how you respond to pressure is what separates great athletes from average ones”.

    And that final statement is of course true to a point, but why would you put someone through that, and in any case their is a big difference between constructive critisism of a substandard performance and the constant critisism, bordering on abuse, that some of our players have to endure.

    Of course it can be dealt with to a degree, which is why we have sports psychologists at most clubs, but wouldn’t it be better if we didn’t need them?’-mental-game/

    Conversely this is what PSYCHOLOGY TODAY has to say about praise:

    “Motivation in sports is so important because you must be willing to work hard in the face of fatigue, boredom, pain, and the desire to do other things.

    Motivation will impact everything that influences your sports performance: physical conditioning, technical and tactical training, mental preparation………

    The reason motivation is so important is that it is the only contributor to sports performance over which you have control.”

    There are certain voices that say critisism is good, and of course we all need our arse kicked now and again, but from my experience I reacted much better to praise, encouragement and guidance than I did to critisism and ridicule.

    Fortunately I was never subject to abuse but I fail to see how under any circumstances constant critisism and abuse can have the slightest positive effect on your performance.

  7. Tony

    Great article. If I may, I’d like to mention the correlation between Personality types and voting habits. Feelings of powerlessness, and innate fear lead to rage and thence abuse. ‘Strong’ leaders appeal to these types perhaps as a means of gaining some power. To matter, if you will. Hence the rise in Nationalism round the world and the appeal of autocrats. After all, Sport is a reflection of society, and doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

  8. Spurs getting away with murder again.

    What has Pochetino got to say about this ?

    And we’ll still have to put up with visitors making excuses.

    The premier league is bent. End of.

  9. The annual Spurs Premier league capitulation is in full swing. Hilarious.

    But it’s still sickening as yet again they get away without a red card.

    Pathetic pigmol cheats.

  10. Spurs could, probably should of had the following players red carded over the last couple of weeks.

    Kane: Headbutt.

    Rose: studs up challange.

    Sanchez: Stamp.

    Kyle Walker: Foul.

    Sissoko: Headbutt.

    No matter what way you dress it up Spurs get away with murder.

    Joke, an absolute joke.

  11. Reading statistics and commentary on that game Nitram, Southampton supposedly had (almost) twice (16:9) as many fouls as the spuds. There were 2 treatments in the commentary, both to Shane Long of Southampton. He was substituted on the second treatment. No cards associated with either treatment. The first treatment may have been associated with a free kick to the spuds.

    How to go Southampton!

    No pinochio, you aren’t being hard done by.

  12. According to my latest attempt at math games, the spuds had a 78% chance of winning that game, a 15% chance of a draw, and a 7% chance of losing.

  13. There was a blurb in the news about Cardiff fighting to avoid relegation. I did a program for Fulham (in 19th), so I just ran Cardiff for conditions before their win (2:0) against State Aid.

    For that game today, they have a 12% chance of winning, and a 44% chance of either draw or loss. My guess is that they get 8 points from those 9 games. And they got 3 today. Their probability of beating Man$ity or Liverpool is less than 1%.

    If they get 8 points from their last 9, that puts them at 33 points, which is not likely to be enough.

    Now, if they were to play the spuds 5 or 6 times in those last 9 games, maybe they could avoid relegation? 🙂

  14. Nitram
    09/03/2019 at 5:01 pm

    Absolutely! They have some special selective visioned Pigmob love. I suppose pigs do like spuds!!

  15. Amazing how much discussion the Sterling ‘off side’ has raised but Kane’s ‘off sides’ in today’s game & that against Arsenal are just ignored. The spud off side not only changed the game but it also cost fortunes in lost bets and win bonuses and prize money at the end of the season. ‘Football is fixed’ is a true statement.

  16. @Tony, if what you’ve said is true, its a pity untold seems to attract a lot of abnormal people. I remember years ago on untold, before you started banning commenters for simply disliking Wenger, a particular article generated a slanging match between AKBs and WOBs, a commenter came on and tried to advocate that debate be carried on without exchange of insults. The AKBs then accused the WOBs of being the starters and major users of abusive language. The adjudicating commenter then decided to make a survey of the comments so far, the result was that the AKBs were first to throw insults and at that point had dished out more than twice as many insult containing comments than the WOBs. Of course the commenter thereafter became the subject of insults from the likes of Bootoomee, with several calls that he be banned. Surprisingly, he was banned with Walter I believe stating that he was getting on the nerves of the regulars. Of course time and again, someone like Menace has continued to thrive on insults on the blog.
    Just recalling history.

  17. Also, we might want to analyze our readiness to insult refs. Except the analysis of people who resort to insults only holds true when they are supporters insulting their players. But if I understood the article, fans insulting the refs are also exhibiting the same characteristics.

  18. OT: Merson annouces crap about UE, UE annouces crap about Merson

    UE got a phone call from Elon Musk. Merson has booked a one-way trip to Ultima-Thule.

    At this point, we aren’t sure when this trip will go. It will happen much cheaper if Merson is ashes (has been cremated). Negotiations are ongoing.

  19. Followup.

    Merson is being a cheap skate, and so SpaceX is having to calculate a low energy orbit to get Merson to Ultima-Thule. Merson would actually l9ike to be implanted into the Kuiper Belt object, but the UN insists that the best he can do is orbit Ultima-Thule.

    At this point, all that is really known is that regardless of what Merson has when he leaves Earth (whole person or ashes), it is going to take a Looooooooong time for him to get there.

  20. Followup.

    Sky Sprots is pissed. They will have to recruit another ex-Arsenal player to lie about Arsenal.

  21. This was fake news. Just like everything that comes out of Merson, Keown, … mouths.

    If you believed this, I have a bridge for sale.

  22. Breaking News!!!

    Merson said he would take Nick along, but only as ashes.

    It is not known who Nick is.

  23. TomP whilst you claim to preach from the pulpit of fairness & sanity, you also point fingers at those you judge to be insulting. It is my prerogative to write as I see the game & if it deems to require an insult as you see it then so be it. I will not alter my passion for the game nor my love for my team.

    When the Liverpool goal keeper is held down by an opponent and none of pigmob reps see the foul it warrants in my view an expression to sum up these untouchables.

    Gord – I’m not sure nick knows who he is.

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