By Tony Attwood
A continuous theme on Untold Arsenal is that there are a whole load of things that are very wrong with football. In fact, so many things are so wrong that it is not unreasonable to say we are being conned.
There are, for example, the outrageous comments of football commentators with stories such as The real reason Jason Cundy was so angry with Arteta in selecting Nwaneri. And of course, there are multiple stories that the media refuse to cover such as the fact that Arsenal are the most fouled team in the Premier League and why this is the case.
Then there is the whole farce of making football transfers the main talking point in the media while refusing to recognise that a) 97% of them never happen and b) spending a fortune on transfers is mostly not a good idea.
But above all, there are the four major issues that show all is not right with refereeing which leaves fans with an ever greater feeling of helplessness.
In such a situation it is perhaps to be expected that in the end, even the most stolid of football fans might become a bit uppity, and the fact that “Football-related arrests rose by nearly 60% last season compared with the last full year before the pandemic”, which is what official figures show surely has some link with the disconnect between what fans see and what the media reports.
For certainly something is causing the fact that “the number of pitch invasions rose by 127% to 441 incidents, while the number of hate crime incidents rose to 384, an increase of 99%,” according to the Guardian. Throwing missiles and antisocial behaviour are also hugely on the increase.
The Telegraph also suggests that “Widespread cocaine use was blamed by police for an epidemic of pitch invasions, missile-throwing, flares and hate crimes that saw football-related arrests surge to their worst level for eight years last season.”
Figures show West Ham United fans were the most likely to be detained by the police with their fans being arrested more than twice as often as Arsenal fans. Also near the top of the league for arrests were the fans of Manchester City, Manchester United, Leicester City and Everton. Meanwhile, it seems that the number of pitch invasions has more than doubled in three years as has the possession of pyrotechnics. Hate crime events have almost doubled.
However what is missing from all these reports – as is indeed always the case – is any consideration of the reason why such events are on the increase. Yet without any understanding of why it will only be by chance that any effective action is taken to overcome the problem.
It is indeed this abject failure by both the football authorities and the media to recognise that events have a cause which is a significant part of the problem. Once we have an idea why there are these increases in specific types of behaviour it is possible to formulate mechanisms to stop them from happening in the first place, rather than football forever simply reacting to events.
One possible reason for what appears to be disenchantment with football is the way the game is being run. Another is the fans’ feeling of powerlessness. And a third, surely, must be the way the game is reported in the media, with the media constantly pointing out that clubs are spending vast sums on players’ transfers and paying the players unimaginable salaries, while not delivering results. Something like 90%+ of football commentary in the media is utterly and totally negative.
A fourth possible reason must be the way in which media predictions are made which then turn out to be ludicrously wrong. These false predictions are then ignored and the story is changed – exactly as predicted in Orwell’s novel “1984”. When the media does that to people they are bound to be disenchanted with the world around them and ultimately rebel.
But perhaps most of all there is the insanity of the way in which refereeing is reported. Crowds complain both at players of their own team who are perceived not to be playing well enough and against referee decisions. In the end players not performing well tend to be removed and dropped from the team, but nothing ever happens to referees. PGMO remains the absolute bastion of secrecy as the media hides the data and makes no references to the facts that reveal referee bias. But the fans can see it and we’ve run the data to show it. (See for example: Why are referees so biased against certain clubs? These figures are shocking).
This abject refusal to report what fans can see must be a major cause of the return to violence and antagonism by fans. The behaviour of referees is at times so ludicrous and outrageous, and the commentary on it so utterly missing in the media, that the disconnect between some fans and the game has now become complete.
Not for the first time the media that reports the bad behaviour of fans with a sense of indignity and horror, is itself at least partially to blame for the problem it is reporting.
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