Football is often described as the beautiful game, but I think there is a lot about the sport that lets that claim down. Fans are there to support their side and to cheer them on to greater achievements on the pitch. There seems to be more focus nowadays not so much on supporting the side that a fan follows, but on knocking the opposition, running them down, wishing injuries and bad upon the opposing players and managers, and that just seems wrong to me.
Banter or hostility?
Some will put it down as banter and high spirits, but it does seem to me to be descending into a darker area. This season, we have had fans run on the pitch and strike out at players. I have seen posts on social media where supporters have wished that opposition players had their legs broken. There seems to be an increase in hostility between supporters of different clubs. If I had kids, I don’t think I would want them to go along to certain matches nowadays due to the increase of bad-taste and bitterness in the air at the ground. Banter is one thing, but this goes beyond taking the mickey. It goes beyond friendly chat and civility.
Normally at the end of a football season, there is some kind of celebration of the teams that have won or got promoted or won a cup. Nowadays it seems that it is bad tempered hate fulled verbals towards the footballers and their supporters. Is this jealousy or just plain nastiness? In the Premier League this year, we have seen two amazing seasons from Manchester City and Liverpool, but we have also witnessed angry hatred towards their players and supporters from other clubs. I just don’t get it. They have been far and away the best two sides in the land, and among the top teams in Europe this year overall, but why do people feel the need to run them down?
I used to watch a lot of Rugby League. The crowds then were supportive and not so hateful towards the opposition. There are always going to be the odd player that plays the pantomime villain, but generally the fans were appreciative of good rugby and respected the opposition if they played better and won. I sensed that crowds were changing in their approach a number of years ago and there was more talk of ‘I hate that team’, or ‘I hope they get relegated or go bust’, that kind of thing. It wasn’t a focus on supporting their own club, it was a focus on wishing the demise or bad fortune of others.
This cauldron of schadenfreude is what is very much becoming the norm in top level football nowadays. They can’t wait for any other club to fail or to get injuries or have setbacks. Supporting a club is as much hating another one as it is cheering your own team on. That can’t be right, surely?
Hatred? This is supposed to be sporting!
Supporters of Club A hate everything about Club B and Club C. Club B supporters hate everything about Clubs A and C. Club D aren’t quite at the races at the moment, but they have a historic hatred of Club B, but are also jealous of the money that Club A and Club C have spent too. What a waste of emotions! I have seen matches where the home team are playing poor, and the crowd are too busy singing about the away side and trying to knock them that they aren’t giving their own team the support they need. I have seen sides at some grounds where the supporters are focused totally on supporting their team and their team respond to the energies that are created from this.
Channeling energies is important as an individual. It is increasingly important to do so as a crowd. I remember being part of the crowd when Aston Villa were in the League Cup Semi Final Second Leg against Tranmere Rovers where Villa had to come back from being 3-1 down from the first leg. The Villa fans sang and chanted support for the club all throughout the game, including half time and the vocal support spurred the team on to victory on penalties after winning that leg 3-1. The club acknowledged that the Villa supporters were the 12th man that day and it helped get them to Wembley, where they went on as underdogs to beat the much fancied Manchester United to lift the trophy.
Support helps teams to win. Abuse and hostility helps no-one. Social media is a minefield of hateful posts aimed at opposition players, teams, supporters, clubs and while it may be ‘a laugh’ to those posting it, they aren’t helping their own side, they are just dragging the sport further into a spiral of nastiness.
It may not change from this way of behaving, but I know for a fact that if you support a team and cheer them on, they are more likely to lift their game and performances, whereas if you spend more time abusing the opposition and looking for reactions, it only brings bad feelings to the surface and isn’t constructive to the side you support, the crowd you are part of, and the game as a whole.
Everyone is against us!
I have seen supporters of club claim that the governing body has a vendetta against them. I have read that referees are deliberately cheating their side out of decisions. People have said that opponents are conning the officials. All this defects away from the fact that it is a sport where the officials make the decisions in the blink of an eye based on what they can see at the time. Referees and assistant referees will make less mistakes throughout the game than the players do, but get much more abuse than their team does. Yet still the supporters say that the officials are biased, rather than look at themselves!
Football isn’t going to change anytime soon. Other sports aren’t going to improve in this aspect anytime soon either. What is frustrating is that these sports are a reflection of society where it is seen as normal behaviour by many people nowadays to shout and bawl at people with opposing views rather than look to have civilised discussion and debate and constructively agree to disagree on certain points. They would much rather give abuse, often from behind the safety of a keyboard, than accept that their team didn’t play as well or didn’t take their chances.
These are the same fans who claim to be supporting ‘the greatest team the world has ever seen’! Hmmm, maybe not!