Editor’s note: Back story: The Telegraph reported that after yesterday’s one-nil win by Manchester City against Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park, some City supporters reportedly began chanting ‘Who put the ball in the Munichs’ net’ to Yaya Toure, who scored against Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final. The ‘Munichs’ reference was to United and the Munich Air Disaster in 1958 where 23 people were tragically killed including Manchester City legend Frank Swift.
Football games are not places for those with a sensitive disposition at the best of times. Language is often fruity and industrial, it’s part of the culture.
However, while many of us have always enjoyed the vulgarity and general piss-taking, you have to draw the line at some point. There are things which simply shouldn’t be said or chanted.
When I first started to go to football in the early 70s, out-and-out racist chanting was commonplace and done without question. It took twenty or thirty years but eventually it became unacceptable and then illegal to make such comments. Rightly so.
Many want to extend this to homophobic chanting too. And I see no reason why not.
However, there remains a hard core of fans who seem to revel in being as unpleasant as possible. These are the people who make the gas chamber hissing noises at Spurs games. Those who sing songs about the Munich air crash at a Manchester United game or those who sing songs about Hillsborough at Liverpool games. There are many other examples too. These are perhaps the most high profile of them.
God knows I’m no wilting flower in this regard and am slow to throw my skirt over my head in horror at such things but surely, surely this has to be stopped somehow.
Mocking the dead, glorying in death and destruction isn’t just banter, it isn’t harmless and it isn’t acceptable.
The daily news brings us stories from around the world which show in all too gory detail just how downright evil the human race can be if left unregulated. As a species we have a terrible habit of surrendering to the lowest common denominator. We can’t and shouldn’t let that happen at our football games.
We pulled back from the void over racism and we can do the same over these issues too. We must maintain a standard that is decent and respectful, not to do so is simply too low, too atavistic to accept. I don’t care if the people doing it don’t think its serious or just football rivalry, we have to have some standard below which we will not go.
Manchester City fans routinely sing ‘Munich’ songs, so much so that the club officials are having meetings to try and decide what to do to stop them. It’s simple, you police the singing of the songs vigorously. You throw out and ban anyone who sings them. It’s not hard to find the culprits on the day or on video afterwards.
We are all football fans but above and beyond that we are all human; we are all people and basic decency should not be surrendered, not even for 90 minutes during a football match.
All concerned need to take a hard-line approach to stop this. It’s gone on far too long.