It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

In some ways its never been easier to be a football fan. The sport has grown to encompass all around us. Ministers and princes fight for football to be played in their country. Turn on the tv and you can find a football game on most days of the week. You have Match of the Day, Sky Soccer Saturday, ESPN. You can follow your team through the newspapers, through the radio and of course through the always growing influence of the internet. If your team doesn't make it onto Sky this week you can throw on your computer, hook up to a stream in the US, the Middle East or Asia and find somewhere that's playing it.

 

Then don't forget the merchandise, you can show your love for your team by snapping up the latest jerseys, hats, scarves, your favorite players boots, even club branded rubber duckies for bath time to really show your support in the tub. And again with the internet you're hooked in to the never ending, always interesting football debate. Right here your average football fan can open up a page and write about the sport he love for tens of people to read it! No training (or talent says you!) required. We are living in the modern age where football is as much a part of our life, maybe even more, than religion, friendship, possibly even family. It's my club, my wife, my kids in that order right?

 

And yet the more this footballing world grows around me the more my love for the game seems to sap away. Or at least a part of it.  With the ongoing debates about racism, every day is filled with a rising shock at the way the real football world works. There has always been racism in the game but I foolishly thought that it was almost stamped out, or at least fought back to countries where maybe the culture had not yet evolved to meet the modern game. And then I hear Sepp Blatter, Gus Poyet and a stream of other players come out and make uninformed and dangerous statements about racism. Paul Ince, Trevor Sinclair and John Barnes all defended John Terry for what he said to Anton Ferdinand when they along with all footballers of all colours, creeds and religions should be condemning any type of racist comment. Yes, when Blatter proved, once again, what an out of touch dinosaur he is there was some backlash, the British journos condemned it and called for his head, there was some half hearted complaints from some leading footballers but even now its starting to die out. The European media barely touched it, the players are getting back to what they do best...

 

And what is that? Playing football? Maybe not. The modern footballer is as depressing a thought as anything else in this game. They are paid unbelievable sums but money has never bought loyalty. They are as loyal as their agent lets them, they love the fans as much as their PR man tells them to. They put up this public face that is consequently ripped apart by scandal. And when it doesn't go their way they simply throw their toys out of the pram like one Carlos Tevez, a man making the kind of money in a week that you'll never see in ten years who is simply ready to cry and sulk and try and a fight a club and a set of fans who idolised him. The modern footballer has been seperated from football fans, put up on another pedestal and now many think they are Gods among mere mortals, a law unto themselves. There are exceptions, but there should always be a doubt in the back of your mind, is this player really an exception? Or just one with a better PR guy then the rest.

 

Speaking of laws, can anyone explain to me why nothing has been done to fix the out of date rules that plague football. Watch any big match, hell any match and after the result is decided somebody will blame a ref who missed a handball, sent a player off wrongly, should have given five, no ten penalties to their team! And this is allowed happen because FIFA, and the national FAs are too afraid to rock the boat and try something new. Is video technology the answer? Maybe. Maybe not. But there's literally thousands of other ideas that will help every facet of football if those who ran it just looked past their own greed for one moment and spent some time fixing the game, because I'm tired of not talking about the players but talking about the refs and what mistakes where made and what results could have, should have, would have been different.

 

Is this the growing belief amongst football fans?

 

But lastly, the real thing hurting my love for this game, is the fans. When Patrice Evra accused Luis Suarez of making racist comments there was one sensible response "Wow, thats horrible, hopefully its a misunderstanding, but if not the FA need to take this matter seriously and deal with it.". But thats not what we got, instead on one side you had a group calling Suarez a racist with no evidence and on the other side you had a vile group of people, who lied, cried and abused. I've seen some comments on Twitter that almost made me want to log off or delete it, never to return. Not to me, but to people giving well thought out arguements. The response they received, insults, threats, is this what football fans are? An unruly mob? So loyal to their own clubs that they will treat anyone who questions one of their own with the most disgusting abuse that I've ever seen. If this is what being a modern fan is about, I want off.

 

But there is hope, foolishly maybe. Today club football returns and for ninety minutes I will turn off Twitter, Facebook and everything else. I'll put down the papers, forget about Blatter, corruption and opposition fans. I'll get behind my teams praying for a win, kicking every ball with them, heading every clearance. Living through them, loving every moment. And for ninety minutes my love of football will be right there for everyone to see and I wouldn't change it for a second. We'll always love this game, for all of its flaws, because when the players are on the pitch with that pigs bladder there's nothhing else like it. This is modern football.

 

 

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One other thing, despite this rant of anger and outrage at football, I will say there have been few times I have been happier with football then when Ireland qualified for the Euros. The current team is a great bunch, not unbelievably talented but hard working and loyal. The success they've had is unbelievable. And I must admit when Trappatoni gave his interview on the Friday night with tears of happiness streaming down his face, I wasn't far behind them. The team won't be going to Polkraine to make up the numbers. Win? The chances are unbelievably slim but we will give anyone a game and with a bit of luck who knows how far the team can go. The players, the manager and the fans deserve this. Come on you boys in green!!

 

If you've liked what you read or feel the need to abuse me on Twitter you can: @David_TPL

 

And of course, comments, criticisms and contempt is always greeted with a smile (and an arguement back) down below in the comment section.

 

Enjoy the weekend football, because Monday it'll all be back to serious business.

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Comment by David O'Loughlin on November 22, 2011 at 12:47

Yeah, being Irish is you called me an Irish c***, sh*t would go down. I wouldn't accept it and I would do something about it.


Without getting into the race issues of the world outside football, people have not accepted the Wenger chants. Once they came to light the media condemned them as did managers.

 

You could spend years discussing racism in the world outside football, the riots, the use of words like Pom or the N word as used in America but thats not what this is about.

 

This is simply about a man who said something he shouldn't. Whether it was Black/Irish c*** or any other mention of race/nationality etc. It deserves to be punished.

 

And no I don't think John Terry is a racist, but he made a racist comment. But much like a person who is guilty of involuntary manslaughter is not a murderer, they still need to be punished.

Comment by WorldClass on November 22, 2011 at 12:08

david what about Irish C*nt... they've been enslaved and made impoverish over the years..

 

What about Spainish C*nt.... they are the same, but looked upon as completely differently...

Its wrong i'm not trying to justify it, but I struggle with the uproar created the minute the word "black" is used...

 

Again with the Wenger chant, I'm not saying it was right, it was disgusting but why does soiciety excpet such slurs but clamber for blood when a stupid comment is made.... I understand the racist implication of what Terry might have said, I don't believe though it was fundamentally racist. He wasn't rsaying Ferdinand was a C*nt because of his colour... is was a stupid slip that in turn has been pounced upon as an inferred racist comment.

 

Terry can't admit to making a mistake and saying something without thinking in the heat of the moment because people don't understand the difference between what is a racist comment and something that has been turned in to a racist comment... if he admitted it now he would have the big banner "RACIST" planted above his head for the rest of his life... that's not right.

 

Any coloured man who has come out in support of Terry has been roundly shot down and slurred. Listen to them, they make complete sense. Why is it ok for the Aussie to call us POMs? that is a racist comment yet it is accepted... Why can a black man rage at the "N" word being used yet use in them selves?

 

I might be naive, I might be looking at this too simply, all i want is a level playing field, where opportunity is for all... but at the moment we have too many levels of sensitivity, too many levels of political correctness, too many do gooders, too many idiots prepared to riot and abuse for no reason....

 

The riots for instance, about a man who got shot by the police.... a man how was alledgely repeatedly told to put a gun down he had in his hand... a man who was portrayed and a quiet family man despite what the community actually said... what with a gun, yeah cause i carry one all the time.

 

Black or White if i was a police officer and a man got out of his car with a gun after being stopped, either they put it down or i put them down... but our police rules state that the offender must fire the gun before being engaged... yeah wait to be shot before shooting back... but that was viewed as "racist" attack by the coloured community, to me if you're carrying a hand gun, and you decide to wave it a the police and not put it down you deserve what you get... BANG... black, white, men, woman... BANG.

 

 

 

Lol at the Villa comment. 

Comment by David O'Loughlin on November 22, 2011 at 11:15

@WorldClass

 

I don't disagree with you on a lot of your points. Society tends to draw a line on what is acceptable on whats not and in the case of racism, maybe the line is a little misplaced. There's nothing wrong with the poem Baa Baa Black Sheep, or with describing a person and including their colour in the description.

 

But these football matters are not the same as that. For the purpose of this arguement we'll presume both men are guilty. Suarez called Evra Negro/Negrito upto ten times, winding him up, all match you could see the two at each other. It was deliberate gamesmanship but you can't use racism that way. This is not the same way as Baa Baa Black Sheep. Saying something racially offensive to wind up an opponent is a disgrace and if proven the book should be thrown at Suarez.

 

As for Terry, the difference between black c*** and fat c*** is huge. Fat people weren't enslaved, weren't denied voting rights, weren't abused due to their fatness. I believe one kid bullying another calling him fat would be completely wrong but one instance of calling an opponent fat? No big deal. Using the persons skin colour has different connotations. Whether you agree it should or not doesn't matter. It does.

 

I don't believe John Terry is a racist, but I believe he made a racist comment and that has to be dealt with strictly.

 

You bring up the Wenger chant but two wrongs don't make a right. The Wenger chants have been condemned, fans who sing it will presumably be removed by a steward. But if for example an opposition player called Wenger a paedophile during the match it should be dealt with by the FA with extreme punishment.

 

As for your lethargy, I can't see how a Villa fan could be anything but that at the moment!

Comment by WorldClass on November 21, 2011 at 10:41

I agree it is a well written article.... however i wish people would stop trying to be the barometer for racism.... racism is an emotive subject and is football, when you put the two together you get warped opinions and passions running high. 

 

All i'll say is something that one person views as racist, may be viewed very differently by another person, the  context, the relationship and time and place all have an effect on this...

 

I have been roundly shot down and (secretively supported to avoid scathing comments) by what I see as an overly PC society. Its full of double standards and hyper tension around certain words...

 

Why can my child not sing "Baa Baa Black" sheep in her preschool? Why was she stopped from singing it? Is it racist or is there a stupid sensitivity around the word "black".... black, black, black, black, black... its a clour people like white, yellow, pink, purple.... black, black, black. 

 

Why when I am describing a man to the police if I say he was a "black man, 6ft, clippered hair with a pattern shaved around his head in a black hooded top with a graffiti thing on the back" am i stopped in my tracks by an officer correcting my sentence... when the important fact was the the old lady had just had her bag stolen? 

 

I don't condone discrimination against anyone, tall, short, fat, thin, black, white, asian, latino, northern, southern, blonde....  Ginger...  

 

There is outcry about Terry, and yet thousands of fans have sung about Wenger, a packet of sweet and his alledged activities with children... it's dismissed as a bit of fun... Banter if you will.

 

Sick to the back teeth of the double standards, the hyper tension and the massive outcry the minute the word"racist" is mooted rightly or wrongly....

 

Is John Terry racist? I doubt it. did he make a silly comment he probably deserves to be punished for? probably.

 

I hate to justify it, but whilst people have rightly said football is far more professional now-a-days, but these are still young men, perhaps we forget how young, they are still playing a sport, they still get passionate on the pitch and still will say stupid things in the heat of the moment. 

 

If a podgy bloke is annoying me on a football pitch I and likely to call him a fat prick as some point.... I'm not fattist... that's not to say i don't think he is a fat prick at the time... and that's not to say i think he's a prick because he is fat... thats doesn't seem too wrong does it? now insert the word "black" for "fat" and suddenly you have huge outcry... 

 

However I too feel rather lathargic toward football or late...I can't put my finger on it but I do think it's been overly tainted by money and cooperated influences... I used to feel I could reach out and touch football, felt a part of it... not its too distant from the most fans.... out of reach and the connetion if growing fainter.... however as the season progresses I think games will come thicker and faster and have more meaning so it may change...

 

 

 

Comment by Giggsy's Right Peg on November 20, 2011 at 19:48

Good article :)

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