I read a piece on the BBC website this morning. It was an appeal from the managers of Liverpool and Manchester United ahead of their clash at Anfield in the FA Cup, which the scousers won 2-1.
The appeal came about following the apparent racial abuse by Liverpool’s Luis Suarez on United’s Patrice Evra when the two teams met in the league in October. Suarez was subsequently banned for eight games and missed the FA Cup tie, however if the game had gone to a replay, he would have been eligible to play.
The thing is though, there would be no need for these sort of appeals if footballers themselves actually set a better example to their supporters, likewise if situations wasn’t so hyped up by the British media, who tend to enjoy stirring up emotions by writing any old shit just to get a reaction.
But footballers have a responsibility to the club, and their own, fans to set the best example possible. Sadly they fail to do this. They are paid millions to play the sport yet think they can getaway with absolutely anything.
For example, look at Ryan Giggs. Idolised by United and Wales supporters, the golden boy was once at the top of his game and could do no wrong. Yet for some reason, he felt it necessary to cheat on his wife not with one woman, but two. And one of those was his sister in law. And to make it worse, he tried to get the courts to cover it all up.
Now what sort of example does that set to youngsters today? That if you make it in football, you’ll become rich enough to do whatever you want. If I was to write a list of bad examples footballers set, I’d still be here at four in the morning.
But something else adds to the vitriolic feelings of today’s football supporter; the Internet. Home to many blogs and sites dedicated to clubs up and down the country. Many are like this one, free blogs aimed to become a mouthpiece.
Except it often gets worse than fans just venting frustration. It can turn into anger and hate, which can then be carried with the supporter into the ground on matchday. I used to run a football blog and used to have a laugh with the articles but always giving a fair, objective view. Yet some of the comments I received were just vile. In the end, I gave it up.
Now put that with some of the tweets that footballers make and you can have a very volatile environment. I follow a few footballers and they generally stay with their own club mates, making comments and having a laugh. Rarely do they comment on another team’s performance. But some can’t help themselves and mouth off which, in turn, gives precedence for the supporters to mouth off as well. And we all know which road that can lead towards.
So if football managers, directors, chairmen, the FA, UEFA and FIFA are serious about cleaning hatred from the game, they need to start with the attitudes of the players. Sort that out and the fans will follow.
May the force be with you.
Jedi Master Bob