Wednesday 22 November 2017

Soccer laid low by sickening culture

Eamonn Sweeney

Your mother is a whore. Your wife takes it up the arse. You're a cunt with HIV.

Come on, where's your sense of humour? These comments are hilarious. Lighten up and get into the spirit of things.

Okay then, maybe they're not that hilarious. They're the kind of things one human being should be ashamed to say to another.

Yet they were chanted by thousands of soccer fans at, respectively, Emanuel Adebayor, David Beckham and Sol Campbell. No action was taken against these supporters or their clubs. In fact, Spurs eagerly pointed out to UEFA that their supporters' Adebayor chants, directed against the striker when he played for Real Madrid, "weren't racist." That's tickety boo then. Nothing wrong with calling someone's mother a whore as long as you don't mention her skin colour.

Last week there were claims that Doncaster Rovers striker Billy Sharp was taunted about the death of his new-born son by Barnsley fans. You could claim that this represents a new low for the game. But then you'd have to overlook the incident back in 2007 when Shamrock Rovers fans jeered Drogheda United's Simon Webb about the death of his wife.

Abusive chants aren't just tolerated within soccer, they're gleefully reproduced on the web and in certain newspapers which seem to regard them as witty banter which is part and parcel of the game. But though I've stood on many a terrace in my time, I still find it difficult to understand the mentality of people who come out with this kind of stuff. Who sneers at a dead wife or child? You'd need to create a new category of bollocks for someone like that.

When journalists refer to the 'sick culture' of professional soccer, they tend to be referring to the unforgivable tendency of the young men who play the game to earn large amounts of money, drink unwise amounts of beer and sleep with many attractive young women. But the real sickness is not on the pitch but in the stands where a horde of spoilt brats think the price of the ticket entitles them to roar the kind of abuse which would probably earn them a beating if they said it to a player's face.

Arguing that players are paid enough money to put up with this simply exposes the jealousy at the heart of the whole ignoble enterprise.

Why does The Beautiful Game have the ugliest fans?

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