It may be just a minority but when fans of a club indulge in disgusting, tasteless taunts towards the opposition it grabs the news headlines and the attention. Every club is guilty of it in their own way, whether it be towards a certain player or the opposition club itself.
Many of the fans I speak to about this matter all say the same thing, ‘It’s just banter’. I disagree. Since when is targeting an ethnic group, chanting false accusations towards a player that could be extremely damaging just ‘banter’. That’s a cowards excuse. These same people hit the roof whenever something is chanted about their beloved club or favourite player.
The chants from West Ham towards Tottenham in Spur’s 3-1 victory were disgusting. Yes, it probably was just a minority. Yes, there will be West Ham fans appalled by the actions of some of their fellow supporters but the chants drowned out any other noise.
It’s not acceptable to make anti-semitic jokes, references to the holocaust or Adolf Hitler in any workplace, school or in public, so why do people seem to think there are different rules when it gets to a football match? The hissing from the away fans, referring to the gas chambers in World War 2, ‘Adolf Hitler, he’s coming for you’. These are inexcusable.
It got worse when they referred to a tragic incident that happened midweek, with a group of Spurs fans targeted by European ultras in their visit to Rome. ‘Viva Lazio’ and ‘Can we stab you every week?’ were what the away fans sang, after a Spurs fan was brutally attacked and knifed on the continent, just because Tottenham have a large Jewish following. Disgraceful behaviour that should be punished.
I’d like to point out that I’m not targeting solely West Ham fans. I get equally annoyed when my fellow Arsenal fans sing songs about rape directed at Robin Van Persie and when away fans accuse Wenger of being a paedophile. It happens at every club and at every club it’s inexcusable.
Football clubs around the country have a code of conduct for their supporters, often outlining that people can be ejected for these obscenities. That’s all very well, but I’ve never seen someone ejected from a football stadium for the chants they are singing. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen, I’m sure there have been times where people have been booted out of the ground due to this but given how often it happens and the amount of fans that embrace this behaviour, the percentage of those punished will be extremely low.
If you were to gather on the streets and sing the same chants the police would swiftly take action, however at a football match the rules seem to be more ‘guidelines’. The fans that do this are clearly too blind to the issues it creates, to the hurt that the chants can cause and to the sensitive issues that they are mentioning. As for the clubs, well they’re just too scared of a backlash by supporters if they start evicting those guilty.
Supporters are there to support their side, not to target opposition fans and players. That’s not supporting, that’s being a nuisance.
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