As the triumphant Bayern Munich touched down back in home territory on Thursday morning after clinching their place in the Champions League final, they were greeting by a guard of honour from the staff at the airport, a haggle of adoring fans, and giant letters spelling the world ‘FINAL’ out next to their plane. Over in Spain, as Barcelona crashed out on Tuesday night, Wednesday’s Madrid based press lamented their unfortunate exit and praised their efforts and also the style in which they continued to play. In England, Barcelona’s conquerors Chelsea faced QPR in a Sunday lunch-time clash and the visiting R’s were asking to form a guard of honour to clap Chelsea onto the field and celebrate their achievement. They refused, with manager Mark Hughes saying ‘no chance’. QPR lost 6-1.
Being brutally honest, it is simply pathetic that Queens Park Rangers opted not to applaud the Chelsea side out. Yet, this is merely the latest example of English opposing teams and their fans refusing to show any support to any side but their own. Whether it be Wayne Rooney repeatedly saying how much he ‘hates’ Liverpool, Chelsea fans interrupting the Hillsborough silence, Liverpool fans chanting about the Munich air disaster, or Arsenal and Stoke fans taunting each other over the incident which saw Aaron Ramsey injured last season, there is simply no respect shown to each other. It could be argued that this helps fuel the competitive nature of the Premiership, but respect is something which can bear no negatives, and the lack of it is fundamentally damaging the league’s reputation, and also the national side.
In Spain, almost half the side ply their trade for Barcelona, yet the captain is from the arch enemy, Iker Casillas of Real Madrid. Is there any animosity towards the goalkeeper from any fans in the country? In England, whether the leader be Steven Gerrard, Rio Ferdinand or John Terry, they face continued criticism from all around them except their own clan. It’s no co-incidence that Spain have gaining astronomical recent success internationally compared to a floundering English side.
It is a sad state of affairs when a superb effect from Chelsea, knocking out the holders and best team in the world Barcelona, cannot be applauded by fellow English professionals. It is an even worse one to think that the majority of footballing fans will be cheering on Munich come May the 19th. While Newcastle, Tottenham and maybe still Arsenal will have legitimate reason too, there is no reason why all other football fans in England shouldn’t be cheering on their home nation side in the Champions League final. But, fuelled by hate and jealously, they won’t be – and the main loser of this is the English national side and the image of the Premier League on the whole.
Think I’m wrong? Who will you be supporting in Munich? Get in touch on Twitter, finding me at @aitkenheadhj or by searching Harry Aitkenhead.
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