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The Ugly Side of Football

After a disappointing campaign for England at the Euro’s and for Team GB football team at the Olympics in the summer, I think I speak on behalf of everyone that the start of the domestic football season was welcomed back with open arms last month. And five games into the season, we have already witnessed some great football played across the country. But football has come under scrutiny lately. It might be Chelsea, Everton and Swansea’s positive starts to the premier league campaign but  bad behaviour from fans has caught the attention of the general public.

Every weekend of every season there is controversy, and unfortunately there always will be. Most of the time it is to do with cheating or the lack of technology. More recently it is the condemnation of offensive chanting. Rivalries have heated up and some show it by chanting about tragedy’s involving the deaths of their rival fans. Others choose to sing about Religious stereotypes regarding the clubs history and background. These people are no doubt giving their club and the sport as a whole a bad name.

Teams like Manchester United and Liverpool have been through a lot over the years. It may be one of the most heated rivalries in the world, but tragedy’s like Hillsborough and Munich should bring the clubs together in times of grieving and remembrance. Unfortunately a small number of  ‘fans’ use it as a weapon to try and wind up their rivals.

The same can be said about racism and anti-Semitic remarks. Football has wanted to stamp this behaviour out for a long time and campaigns such as ‘Show Racism the Red Card’ has raised peoples awareness. Although some argue this behaviour is in decline, it is still an ongoing problem. A prime example of this is shown in the Arsenal v Tottenham derby. A small minority of  Arsenal ‘fans’ are known to have taunted Tottenham in the past for their Jewish background.

It is not just match days where this is seen. Twitter is an effective tool for fans to vent their anger and hatred towards others. Sometimes even their own players. Stan Collymore has received a lot of racial abuse from Liverpool ‘fans’, despite enjoying a successful part of his career at Anfield.

Many argue that this sort of behaviour from the clubs ‘fans’ mentioned is not a reflection of the club, but the individual. Perhaps this is true but it begs the question: Will these people ever learn? They obviously have no morals so will they ever change? They’re grown ‘adults’ so I doubt it. In that case they should be banned for their behaviour. There are plenty of other supporters out there who would happily spend their hard earned wage to watch the club they love.

But is banning going to solve the problem? As this has been a problem in football for a while now it is something that doesn’t look likely to just disappear. The clubs themselves have a massive responsibility here. Particularly the owners, they understand how important reputation is. And by producing campaigns to make sure this sort of behaviour doesn’t happen will only have a positive effect on themselves and the other clubs out there. Prevention is the key here. Perhaps punishment can also count as prevention, it will send out a message to all fans that enough is enough. A prime example of this technique has already been brought in by some clubs. A confidential text service has been introduced where it is easy for supporters to report what offence has been made and what seat, row or block number, the offender is seated in.

Campaigning will be a waste of time though if people refuse to change their attitudes on this subject. As mentioned, Twitter can be used as a tool for fans and players to share their thoughts on football matters. While the official documents of the Hillsborough tragedy were being released a minority of Manchester United ‘fans’ used their twitter account to show their anger at calls to shut out offensive chanting at matches regarding the tragedy. Some suggested that Liverpool fans are hypocrites because they make remarks regarding the Munich tragedy. This sort of attitude must change. These people need to realise that this is not a game and the people who want these chants to stop, more than likely want offensive chanting to stop altogether. The minority of one club should never represent the majority. Fans across the country are proud of their history and reputation and most would not want to damage it by disrespecting others.

If this behaviour is to stop, then club’s and their fans need to work together. By using the examples mentioned I’m sure they can make a difference and stamp out this ugly side of football once and for all.

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