Abuse from opposing fans – Where do you draw the line?

by Martin

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

Did Spurs fans go to far?

The issues raised at Portsmouth on Saturday, regarding the vile song sung by ‘supporters’ of Tottenham Hotspur have opened up a can of worms that has quite frankly been sealed too long. Sol Campbell was subjected to a song that was racist (hanging from a tree), homophobic (HIV reference)), personal (lunacy reference) and offensive on almost every other level. Whether sung by fans on a terrace, rugby thugs in a pub, or drunks in the street this song doesn’t just cross the line, it shoots past it at 100 miles an hour. There is no place for it in modern society.


To hear Spurs fans bleating on about it being ok, just a bit of fun and justified because many years ago the subject left their club for their rivals is as pathetic as it is ignorant. When black people were hanging from trees in Alabama in the 30’s the majority of lynchers would have claimed it was just a bit of fun and they deserved it for looking at a white woman. Apologists like this are as bad as the racist scum undertaking the acts.


Spurs fans will also say that they have been the victims in the past. And they have. I have heard Arsenal fans hiss when Spurs take the field, mimicking the noise of the gas chamber because of Tottenham’s Jewish base. I have heard Manchester United fans singing songs laughing at Hillsborough when they play Liverpool and Munich based retorts coming from the scousers. The list goes on.


But in the words of The Specials, it doesn’t make it alright. Despite massive efforts, which have been partly effective, football still remains one of the big recruiting grounds for the far right, and this kind of bollocks plays into their hands. Football is a sport, a place where families and grown ups should be able to enjoy a Saturday afternoon out, and where players should be allowed to ply their trade without fear of hurt. Some playful banter against that winker Ronaldo, or divers and perceived cheats like Drogba is one thing, its acceptable and expected, but when the songs and comments become vicious, personal, racist or just plain offensive then it has to be stopped. And that includes on the pitch Mr Materazzi.


I for one hope that the Hampshire police make a stand on this one and that Tottenham are made to pay. But fining the club is largely ineffective in a case like this, as they will just pay it from small change and the fans won’t be effected. I say we should use the CCTV installed in grounds to proper effect, study that crowd from Saturday, identify anybody singing along to that song and ban them from football grounds for life. That may make other fans think twice before indulging in similar chants in the future. Its time football got hard to stamp this prejudice out.


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  • Matt Quinn

    Totally agree. All Campbell did was move to a rival club. Its not like he’s Hitler or Gary Glitter. Obviously there will always be some boo-ing and even good-natured chanting – but to take it to these levels is terrible.

  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Darren

    Unfortunately it is and always will be part of our game. Look at what Leeds fans sing to the Man United fans, not to mention the abuse Frank Lampard got once his mum died from West Ham fans, football fans are very ignorant and uneducated, we know this but every now and then they show their true colours. I think people who are caught chanting racist or nasty comments should be named and shamed. That would surely stop them.

    One of the main reasons I stopped going to Arsenal games was a an incident that happened in a North London derby, I had to listen to one of my own fans call Ian Wright, the greatest player ever to wear an Arsenal shirt racist names. I turned round and actually pulled him up on it, I won’t repeat what his reply was but it certainly made me question why I was sitting amongst such pathetic people.

  • got to be ‘joking here’

    Anyone who thinks racial abuse has been stamped out from football is sadly mistaken. Okay so it’s not as bad as the early 80’s but as the case in point has highlighted it can be as bad if not worse. Like Darren has highlighted above when you’re sat amongst your own fans and hear it and sometimes against you’re own players it beggars belief.
    I was at a Boro V West Ham game last season and this drunken yob started shouting ‘Falklands you effin Argie’ he was shouting at Carlos Tevez…what makes him look even more of idiot he was cheering Argentine Julio Arca at every opportunity…I cringed whenever he stood up.

  • Jamie Farrier

    Darren, I can totally see where you’re coming from with the stories you’ve had to retell. But I think it needn’t necessarily be part of our game for years to come.

    The only problem is the authorities are all talk and no trousers when it comes to dealing with it. They’ll spend lots of money on dramatic and bold slogans to put up around the grounds, but they fail to act when it comes to the crunch. Case in point, which we didn’t really pick up on here with an article, was Emile Heskey in Croatia. Eastern Europe has had a massive problem with black players for years, and what did the govening body do about it? Fine the Croatian FA £15,000. The Sun correctly pointed out this equated to a piddly amount per supporter and Adrian Chiles made the pretty accurate assumption that, given the amount of money in football today, it’d be like me giving you a fine of 5 pence.

    Come on FIFA, if you really want to kick out racism then stop making good-natured noises and hit offenders where it really hurts. I personally think the punishment should fit the crime; if a country or club wishes to take part in a competition that unites players, fans and communities of all backgrounds, but their supporters continue to abuse the playing field they’ve been granted, then make them play games behind closed doors or, for serial offenders, kick them out of competitions altogether. Don’t be afraid to do it, FIFA, just because you’re hurting clubs financially when you feel like it’s your job to give them money. It just won’t do in the long run.

  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Darren

    just like when Inter & AC had that riot, gave them a massive fine £55,000. Should of kicked them out all together. Our clubs got banned in the 80’s, once again FIFA have bottled it, if it was us we would be thrown out of course.

    Lets get Bobby Charlton, Brooking & Gazza on the FIFA board!! Ok, Gazza was a joke

  • http://aloadofcobblers.blogspot.com Danny Brothers

    It’s ridiculous fining a football club in the Premier League that amount of money…as has been mentioned, it’s like charging the normal working man 5p. Something has to be done to stop the abuse given to players. You wouldn’t expect those kinds of comments from your worst enemy, let alone some football “fan” who doesn’t even know you.

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