Thinking about the foundation of law in the United Kingdom, and all of Europe for that matter, that a person is innocent until proven guilty, made me wonder how, as an Arsenal fan, my immediate reaction to Jack Wilshere’s arrest differed to that of the Pakistani cricketing trio (three Pakistani cricket players were this week arrested on charges of spot fixing). As it stands neither Jack Wilshere or any of the Pakistani trio have been charged. Considering it has now already been 5 days since the allegations were made against the Pakistani player and the evidence was handed to the police, it appears unlikely that they now will be formally charged, unless any new supplementary evidence is forthcoming. It’s a similar story for Wilshere, he appears unlikely to be charged.
So, I wondered, is my affection for Arsenal so deep that whatever happens it directs my thoughts at such a base level? Does the affection determine how i react to actions somewhat independent from football? Does the affection prevent me from being the type of person i imagine, or wish, myself to be?
When news broke of Wilshere’s arrest I immediately studied the story and came to the conclusion that he was merely arrested by the police because of his proximity to the incident. Even if the allegations that he was taking up skirt photos without consent are true, I dismissed it as a young man messing about. Of the things to consider, in his favour, there was the possibility that one of the police officers recognised him and chose to arrest him fully aware it might make their night a little more interesting, and also, again, back to the fact that Wilshere is just a teenager. When referencing the fact he is a teenager I am merely implying possible naivety and concomitantly, therefore, innocence. I am implicitly giving Wilshere a get out clause.
One of the Pakistani cricketing trio was also a teenager. Mohammad Amir is the same age, 18 years old. I didn’t consider his case the same way. I know with certainty that it isn’t racism that made me consider it in a different way because were it a young Pakistani Arsenal player, I would have felt the same way as I did about Wilshere. If it’s an Arsenal lad the law comes second, there are circumstances, reasons and there is context. He is innocent until proven guilty and even if guilty we should empathise. In the Amir case, in its immediacy, I dismissed all circumstances, reasons and context. There was little immediate empathy. But even if there is no circumstance or reason that can justify something there is always context. Appreciating that context we can understand and perhaps empathise, even if it requires abstraction.
The two cases do indeed differ, one concerns corruption of sport, the other a fracas outside a nightclub and the possible corruption of a young girl. However, all the correct procedures and positions, such as considering somebody innocent until proven guilty, and noble virtues, like empathy and understanding, only applied when I considered the case of an Arsenal player.
My love, or perhaps passion, for Arsenal superseded all rational, just and fair consideration. Perhaps this is precisely what passion is but my passion was blind. In summary, just considering how my thoughts developed as a consequence of the two supposed actions of Wilshere and Amir (plus the other two players) I realised that when it comes to anything connected to Arsenal I am far from objective. Granted, objectivity is not actually achievable, or perhaps even desirable, but as a somewhat cynical and reflective Arsenal supporter I considered myself to be one of the fairer judges of my team. It turns out I am nothing but.
Through my affection and connection to Arsenal I will always have a tendency to bias even in the most remote of cases. Should that bias be more or less than others might have is somewhat irrespective because it still exists to an evidently great degree. I concluded that if you want a truthful opinion about anything that is connected, directly or indirectly, to a particular football club do not ask a fan of that side. Unfortunately we can’t ask somebody who isn’t a fan, either, for they are also prone to bias, although it is arrived at from a different angle. What is there to do? Perhaps just watch football and then never talk about it. That’s it. Watch and don’t speak.