Since the north London derby I have watched the debate rumble on regarding the chants towards Tottenham’s Emmanuel Adebayor and also the abuse that Bacary Sagna endured whilst he lay by the advertising boards with a broken leg. Most Arsenal fans are not happy because the Sagna abuse from Spurs fans has been glossed over and all the attention is on Arsenal fans for abusing Adebayor. We may as well get this cleared up now, the Sagna incident wasn’t as readily highlighted for two reasons; firstly, his injury overshadowed the abuse and secondly Arsene Wenger, rightly or wrongly, didn’t shout from the rooftops about it like Harry Redknapp did.
That said, in my opinion, I don’t think either incident was more than extreme banter at a derby match. Do we expect anything less than passions and emotions boiling over in the heat of battle? No. Take the Merseyside derby and the coin throwing by an Everton fan at Luis Suarez … you know what they say, ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me’, is a bit of verbal worse?
So everyone has been up in arms about this – I say deal with it. Rightly or wrongly it is part of football and I would rather be in a cauldron atmosphere that means something to each and everyone in that stadium, rather than at a nothing game where no one cares. I draw the line at racism and other such chants that cross the line, but I am not ashamed to admit I have sung along with some songs that are meant to get at players. Who hasn’t at one time or another? People go on about abuse towards players and managers at grounds, but there is more savage abuse out there happening a daily basis for most footballers, and that is the abuse they receive on Twitter.
Try having multiple people sending you abuse that you can read from the comfort of your own sofa instead of being able shrug it off during a game. I have a twitter account and I get abuse because of the nature of my job, it is times like these when I can write anonymously for Football Rascal that I actually get to say what I want. I am inside football and some people cannot deal with the abuse they receive and when it is coming at you in your home, via whatever channel, why should you have to deal with it?
One of the high-profile footballers that had enough of it all was Kevin Davies, who was a massive advocate of the site. The Bolton Wanderers captain has been around the England setup, is a high profile Premier League footballer and I enjoyed following him. He had an interesting life and seemed to just be a pretty regular guy. Obviously the lavish lifestyle sets him apart from the average man on the street, but at the end of the day we are all the same, just flesh and bone.
What gets me is that the majority of the abuse wouldn’t be said to his face and people love to hide behind a Twitter account.
It isn’t just Kevin Davies. Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney, Sergio Aguero, Robbie Savage and most footballer’s I have seen getting it on their Twitter feed. Saying that, some of them don’t help themsleves of course. In fact Sergio Aguero was getting abuse from United fans as soon as he landed in Manchester via his Twitter account. Some ‘Green Street’ wannabe’s giving him a bit of verbal that he probably couldn’t even read other than the swear words which mean nothing. Some players it effects, especially if you get a real sicko giving it the big one. Most footballers just laugh it off.
What fans forget is that these players, regardless of their club, are just normal guys with wives, kids and families. Everyone went to school and played football in the playground, everyone has mates from all walks of life. Take the football element away and we are all just people. Robbie Savage (@RobbieSavage8) summed it up perfectly: “Everybody sees the person on the football field and has a perception of him, but in the media or on Twitter it’s just me being myself. I’m an honest, hard-working guy who likes a laugh.”
Football rivalry and also city rivalry is a strange thing though that runs deep; a lot of Mancunian’s have a strong hatred for Liverpudlian’s and vice-versa. It is what it is. People from Newcastle dislike their neighbours from Sunderland, but we all live and work together without abusing one another other than harmless banter.
What really annoys me is that the more abuse players get, the less they will use Twitter and I for one want them to continue giving us an insight in to their lives and personalities, instead of going back to the secret vale that has shrouded football for so long. At least we get a little bit of insight now to what it would be like to live out our wildest dreams as a top athlete and also to know that it isn’t the fantasy land we dream of. A bit of banter is fine but all out abuse is pointless and hurtful, so if you see it have a word and point the offenders out!