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How Supporting A Team Can Make You Realize You’re Not The Person You Imagined You Are

Aug. 01, 2010 - 06260562 date 01 08 2010 Copyright imago BPI Jack Wilshere of Arsenal and Marco Borriello of AC Milan PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUKxFRAxNEDxESPxSWExPOLxCHNxJPN Football men try out 2010 2011 London Action shot Vdig 2010 horizontal Highlight premiumd Football.

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.

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  1. RVPFan

    September 3, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    “In the Amir case, in its immediacy, I dismissed all circumstances, reasons and context.”
    I am curious as to why that is the case? The investigation is under way by the Scotland Yard and as you yourself say “innocent until proven guilty” and then go on to make statements like above. Aren’t you contradicting yourself? Why even bring up the subject for that matter.

    Now the context, In South Asia, spot betting and match-fixing are rampant everywhere. It’s in Pakistan, India, Srilanka, Bangladesh, everywhere. Player’s life and their families life are in stake in that part of the world. You never know what might have happened behind the scenes. Perhaps he was threatened with the lives of his families. It’s the PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board) that needs to be held accountable. If you remember a while back there was a cricket fixing investigation by a Judge in Pakistan. It was a detailed analysis and yet, PCB decided to keep quiet because high-profile players were involved. This issue wouldn’t have arose had PCB done its job. There is no protection for players and their families.

    I am not justifying such actions, and players should be punished as Scotland Yard decides and as ICC’s code of conduct, however I do sympathize with these players. They get paid minimum and their and their loved one’s life are always in danger.

    This was a strange thing to bring up in a subject of your love for Arsenal. My favorite club.

    • Andreas Vassiliades

      September 3, 2010 at 3:42 pm

      i don’t quite gather what is complicated or not clear.

      Let me put it like this.

      With the WIlshere incident i wanted to consider the facts, the circumstances, the situation. I was appreciative of the premise ‘innocent until proven guilty’.

      With the Amir incident i was rather too dismissive of the facts (although obviouslt not completely, or i wouldn’t have understood anything), the circumstances, the context, the situation. I just presumed guilt.

      Quite clear really. My association and affection for Arsenal affected my clarity of thought. My passion was blind.

  2. fieldsofanfieldroad

    September 3, 2010 at 11:01 am

    I can understand forgiving players for their indiscretions because you support their team (god knows that I rarely make fun of Stevie G for getting in that fight a while back that was allegedly over a DJ not playing Phil Collins) but I think that we need to put things in perspective here. You can say that Wilshere is innocent until proven guilty (fine), but taking pictures up women’s skirts is not just some silly crime that can be passed off as “boys will be boys.” It’s sexual assault. I wasn’t aware that sexual assault was appropriate for some age groups but not others.

    Perhaps he could be forgiven if he is actually innocent, but never should he be forgiven simply because he’s a teenager.

  3. Dave C

    September 3, 2010 at 9:55 am

    Just a couple of thoughts:

    Firstly “up skirt photos without consent”??? Is this what Wilshire’s accused of? As a professional footballer with stacks of money, he should find it pretty easy to find girls without resorting to that!

    Secondly, can anyone enlighten me on this: I often wonder why match-fixing, doping etc etc is even treated as a crime. I think the same way of the allegations against these cricketers, Bruce Grobelaar back in the day, and all the baseball enquiries in the US. I mean, these guys are essentially accused of cheating at a sport. That’s all it is. Why are governments and courts getting involved in these matters?

  4. Spoof

    September 3, 2010 at 2:14 am

    Wilshere’s a rapist scumbag. Go Spurs!!!

  5. Jean-Christian

    September 2, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    I respect the concept of having your opinion on similar scenarios influenced by fandom and bias, but I don’t feel that the examples you present are similar scenarios. According to reports thus far, Wilshere is only tangentially related to a crime, while the Pakistani players are being directly accused of a crime. Furthermore, the crimes themselves don’t warrant comparison. The comparative severity of match fixing versus sexual harassment aside, the two crimes are vastly different.

    • Andreas Vassiliades

      September 2, 2010 at 9:37 pm

      Jean Christian, your critique has obvious justifications and in many eyes the ‘alleged’ crimes won’t warrant comparison, that is true, but to consider that they should be equals, or similar in stature, is to avoid the point of the article.

      To put it in a more simple fashion,

      theoretically, we should always presume somebody innocent until they are proven guilty. Furthermore, even if they are proven guilty we should, in the pursuit of ideal ethics, empathise. However, as demonstrated – regardless of the specifics of the case – when it comes to something connected to Arsenal i can do what theoretically should be done. I presume innocence and even if that isn’t the case i am willing to empathise.
      But when it comes to an alleged crime not connected to Arsenal (or any other allegiance – institutional or personal – i may have) i, as most people unfortunately typically also do, presume a level of guilt first and a lack of empathy on my part to boot.

      To focus on the comparative merit of the two ‘alleged’ crimes mentioned is to avoid the fundamental point of the article.

      Thanks for the comment, by the by, and i hope my explanation is sufficient.

  6. vinnie

    September 2, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    innocent until proven guilty; too bad the media has always thought that they are the judge and jury running the trial. news like this don’t come by often and sells like hotcake

    • nomorespinsports

      September 3, 2010 at 1:43 pm

      The concept of innocent until proven guilty applies to a court of law. It has nothing to do with the media.

  7. Michael McCarthy

    September 2, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    Rather than believe the allegations I have used evidence such as Jack doesn’t drink alcohol and that Amikas doesn’t allow under 21’s. Take the Michael Jackson allegations and his fans reaction or the shock wrestling fans had when Chris Benoit murdered his wife and young child. Wrestling fans say his brain messed up due to repeated concussion and years of steroids which set up roid rage.

    People grew up watching these performers and rather than hurt themselves they dismissed such claims or justify them. Rather than believe the allegations I have dismissed it and am thankful the claims are not worse.

    • Dave C

      September 3, 2010 at 9:44 am

      I haven’t familiarized myself with the full Jack Wilshire story, so apologies if I’m misinterpreting what you said, but:

      Is “Amikas” the club where Wilshire allegedly got up to his shenanigans? If so, I would take with a pinch of salt the fact that it only allows over 21’s. I think if an 18 yr old footballer with a pocket full of cash showed up at the door, the doorman might make an exception to the over-21 rule.

      I’m not implying whether he did anything illegal or not, just that I don’t think the door policy of the club carries much weight either way.

  8. gazzap

    September 2, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    I know what you mean and u used to be worse than I am now in terms of support of our players no matter what. But maybe I grew upa bit and started to be able to empathise with how other people feel (that girl/opposition fans etc). If you can detach yourself a bit then you can make a clearer judgement. And if Wilshere was taking dodgy pictures then the fact he is 18 doesn’t make him right – its a stupid thing to do.

  9. Ahmadudu

    September 2, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    Very well said, as a man utd fan i would never praise barcelona as any other fan would, and an arsenal fan would unfairly criticize messi. So well said my friend just watch the game and don’t analyse.

  10. Premier League Guy

    September 2, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    When I stepped back from being so intrinsic about my own team and looked at the league from an objective point of view – it was like enlightenment. Yes you will always have slight bias but it allows you to see all teams strengths and weaknesses clearer – and view their employee’s misdemeanors from a more rational point of view. A minority of professional footballs are dicks – which will get blown out of all proportion in the headlines because it makes great copy.

    As for Whilshere – he’s 18 years old for Christ’s sake! I was still stealing ‘For Sale’ signs and pushing sleeping cows over at that age.

  11. Peter Wright

    September 2, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    So true. As a gooner I wanted to believe that Jack was and is totally innocent. For all we know he may be another stupid footballer who doesnt live in the real world.

  12. tiredofit

    September 2, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    You know, EPL Talk doesn’t need to run so many stories each day, you can choose to only post a few quality ones instead of crap like this or “What’s Your favorite part about the USA and the UK”. This site is going downhill quickly.

    So basically, boys will be boys, especially if they are on my fav team’s squad.

    • The Gaffer

      September 2, 2010 at 4:07 pm

      It’s completely subjective. The articles that you don’t like, the others may love. And vice-versa. If you don’t like one, skip it.

      The Gaffer

      • Dave C

        September 3, 2010 at 9:51 am

        @Gaffer – despite being someone who occasionally criticized the content of this website in the past, I can’t agree with you more on this one.

        Personally I prefer the slightly off-the-wall kind of articles like this one. I think it’s good that there are articles discussing more than just transfer speculation or who’s gonna win the league.

    • The Gaffer

      September 2, 2010 at 4:36 pm

      One more thing. What types of articles would you like to see?

      The Gaffer

  13. ruffneckc

    September 2, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    A friend told me long ago that I shouldn’t forget that fan is short for fanatic. The definition of the word is, “a person with an extreme and uncritical enthusiasm or zeal, as in religion or politics.”

    Religion and politics are good examples of what a fan is because, neither can be argued in absolute terms. You are right, fans are biased and the spectacles are always rose-tinted – it is the nature of the thing.

  14. elvido

    September 2, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    Well written, it is unfortunate that the “blinders” are the collateral damage of being a follower of or believing implicitly in anything! Hey, it works for religion! It is a very difficult art to be passionate yet disconnected….. almost impossible without a drastic reduction in your social circle 😛

    • philipo

      September 2, 2010 at 8:12 pm

      Actually, most of Europe is guilty till proven innocent. Not great to make your opening point completely wrong.

      • Andreas Vassiliades

        September 2, 2010 at 9:25 pm

        No Phillipo, you are wrong. No ambiguity, you are just wrong.
        Council of Europe says (art. 6.2): “Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law”

        That piece of legislation from Brussels supersedes all national and regional law in the EU.

        So, the first point, the premise, is absolutely correct.

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