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Thursday, 18 August 2011

Death, taxes... and hatred in football

Death, taxes, and hatred in football.

Nanana nanananana-nana Sami you’re a cunt, you’re a cunt, Sami you’re cunt!

KC and the sunshine Band certainly didn’t have that in mind when they sang Give It Up back in 1983. Football fans have a lovely way of high-jacking popular melodies to suit their needs. Most of them are sung in praise of heroes, along with many variations of Walking in a Winter/Shearer/Whoever Wonderland, there’s a cracker sung by Manchester United fans about Ji-Sung Park based on Lord of the Dance, and my favourite which was started up at Newcastle (to the tune of the Happy Days theme tune) Monday Tuesday Habib Beye… that’s just pure and simply genius. However, if there’s only three things that are certain in life, it’s death, taxes, and hatred in football.

Any footballer peeping his head above the parapet, with by choice or by way of landing himself on the front pages after misdemeanours (Also his choice) or even as the victim of false allegations (It does happen a lot) can find themselves the target of ridicule at their club’s next away game, where a crowd will have someone turn within it turning their witty hand at a bit of character assassination.

Graham Rix was accused, rightly or wrongly, as was Arsene Wenger (as far as we know with no truthful basis whatsoever) of paedophilia. Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson described his own fans behaviour as disgusting after that incident with Wenger when he was sent to the stands and verbally abused by hundreds or thousands. Sol Campbell is the victim of horrific abuse at the hands of Tottenham fans (among others), and whilst he was a Portsmouth there was such vileness that the Hampshire Police considered large-scale arrests in the ground – they only didn’t wade in because of the large number of people chanting, they feared a riot. Using the same song as that sung by United fans to honour Ji-Sung Park (Honour by poking fun at his country’s rather different cuisine) Campbell was abused on many levels:
“Sol, Sol, wherever you may be, Not long now till lunacy, And we won’t give a fuck when you’re hanging from a tree, You Judas cunt with HIV” Delightful. Whilst utterly horrible, I must admit that to crowbar taunts about mental illness, suicide, betrayal, slurs on sexuality and blood-born viruses into ONE VERSE takes some skill – and maybe even more worryingly, quite a lot of thought and time. Not that Tottenham Hotspur fans are the worst offenders, often the target of anti-Semitic chanting due to the large Jewish population in North London. It’s sickening to think of how a Jewish supporter of another club might feel when fans of their team are chanting about gas chambers. Would they join in? Would they speak out? Or would they look the other way and try to imagine that it wasn’t happening?

Going back to Arsenal, the chant quoted at the top of the page was recorded at a Newcastle game – being sung by Arsenal supporters, and is currently doing the rounds on youtube (You’ll have to sign in though)

People spewing hatred and bile at former players isn’t new, it’s shameful but it isn’t new. Any player leaving a club will either be remembered fondly as a great servant of the club, or as a Judas Iscariot figure. But chanting abuse about a player who is still on the payroll is new, to me at least – I’ve not heard of it before.

Sectarian violence, racism, homophobia and pure blind fury should have no place in football, after all it’s the beautiful game isn’t it? It’s not new, this hatred thing, it’s been going on probably as long as football has been around. And it’ll probably never go away, at least not until football does.

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