One of the most depressing things to have emerged from the racism scandal that has threatened to overshadow large parts of the Premier League season is the loyalty blindness that has affected large amounts of fans throughout the league.
The boos that rained down on Patrice Evra and Anton Ferdinand were a signal that all is not well in the minds of a significant minority of so called football supporters. To boo a victim or alleged victim of racism is disgusting enough but to then claim that it is justified along tribal lines is frankly appalling behavior.
If what has happened over the last few weeks would have unfolded in any other country, let us say Russia or Spain for argument’s sake, our media and fans of football in this country would have been swift and damning in their criticism of it. However, it appears to be all too easy for people to put the football goggles on and descend into some sort of twisted moral logic that even the most dastardly politician would have trouble replicating.
Take for example the booing of Patrice Evra at Anfield. Here we are faced with a large number of people abusing a person who has been found, through an independent tribunal, to have been the victim of racist abuse from a fellow professional. Yet a significant amount of Liverpool fans felt that it was acceptable to boo Evra because he played for a rival team and his evidence had seen one of the Kop’s favourites banned.
This is not just a criticism aimed at Liverpool fans. There are fans at all clubs that embarrass the right thinking majority. Chelsea fans booing Rio Ferdinand and any number of clubs who sang the now infamous Adebayor chant over the last few years are just a couple of examples. Unfortunately there are plenty more out there.
Football is an emotive subject for many and showing undying love for their team is something that comes naturally to so many and this passion is a large part of what makes football and the Premier League in particular such a joy to follow. But passion and loyalty can never be used as an excuse for behaviour that in any other walk of life would be viewed with the utmost disdain.
“It is only a game” may sound like the kind of phrase your mum would say after another demoralising defeat as a child but at times like this, it is the most important thing to remember. If we lose sight of this fact then football will have lost its place in life. The role of sport is self defined – the oldest definition of the word in English is “anything humans find amusing or entertaining”. If we have reached the point where booing a victim of abuse is entertaining is seen as a form of entertainment then we all need to take a good long look at ourselves.