By Tony Attwood
We’ve been discussing gaslighting in football for some time now, with a couple of summary articles yesterday. At the same time it is clear that a fair number of correspondents do seem utterly fixated on accusing Untold of supporting conspiracy theories, without producing any evidence. And that is getting bizarre.
And we have now reached the point where seemingly no matter how many articles Untold produces saying we don’t believe there is any conspiracy, we will get comments from readers denying this!
But let’s try and clarify.
Untold has put together, in the last two seasons, a collection of statistics which have not been contested by anyone. Indeed the vast majority of them come from the official Premier League website. So unless readers are wanting to argue that the Premier League themselves are involved in presenting false statistics (which would indeed be interesting) what we base our arguments on are facts.
Now it is interesting that when we presented our first set of figures in this series (which related to Leicester) the response from their fans was not to deny them but rather to explain them through reference to player injuries. No accusations of having a conspiracy theory, but rather explanations for the extraordinarily high level of tackles that Leicester were putting in, combined with the extraordinarily low level of fouls and yellow cards given against them.
That was proper debate. We countered with additional facts; more proper debate.
But with the Arsenal fans who replied to our earlier article Is there an anti Arsenal agenda, or are we actually awful? there was the repeated suggestion that we believed in a conspiracy theory, which the article shows we do not. Our view is that this is an example of the very common issue of “gaslighting”
Gaslighting is an approach which rather than being based on reasoned debate and argument (as those Leicester fans engaged in), is based on the denial of the validity of the entire debate by ignoring the presented facts and instead claiming that we were suggesting there was a conspiracy, when we were in fact doing the opposite.
Which then raises the question, does it matter? Surely, it is argued, football simply goes on irrespective of the debate.
The fallacy of that argument can be seen by our stats which show that Arsenal are given referees who had out multiple cards more regularly than referees who had out few or no cards.
The high-carding refs hand out yellow cards equally to both teams on the pitch so there is no bias visible. But the facts show Arsenal get these high-carding referees more than any other club, so there is a tendency for Arsenal to get more yellow cards overall, and thus get more players suspended. It could even be that the word spreads among the players that transferring to Arsenal can be a problem because as a player you will be yellow carded more with Arsenal than if one played for other clubs.
That debating point never got any publicity even though Arsenal were right at the top of the yellow card table despite having cut their fouls down. Not even when a list emerges showing just how many times in a season Arsenal get a high carding referee. No one was willing to debate the issue, even though there were statistics available which formed the basis of the debate. But when Leicester’s high tackling rates, two years ago, suddenly started attracting much higher levels of fouls and yellow card some Leicester fans did debate the point – not accuse us of having a conspiracy theory.
The statistics from the opening game this season are interesting. Arsenal had 22 shots on target but didn’t score. That makes us think of our inexperienced forward line, and suggests that with Adebayor and Lacazette on the pitch a couple of those 22 shots would have turned into goals. We also had 14 off target which again would have been reduced as the on target number went up, if the regular players in the team.
In short there were interesting statistics in that game but
a) the media hardly touched on them at all
b) Untold was accused of suggesting there was a conspiracy against Arsenal, when we did nothing of the kind.
As a result, the real debate doesn’t happen and the gaslighters who proclaim that we are pedalling a conspiracy theory, stifle the real debate.
The question now is, why are so many people wanting to accuse Untold of engaging in conspiracy theories, when we clearly are not?
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