As a fan base we should be embarrassed by Granit Xhaka’s interview with Players Tribune.
The consensus in the Football community is the player has been brave to speak candidly about the abuse he has received from his own supporters. It’s uncomfortable to think of Gooners being associated like that. We were once the club known for always acting with class and doing things the right way.
Arsene Wenger warned in his final years that as a fanbase we were in danger of losing the proud values we were famous for.
Tony Adams, Ian Wright, Keown, Dixon, Henry, Viera, etc. I grew up with talent who spoke about the pride of representing the badge.
A generation now see players no longer with that pride to wear the shirt. Mustafi has spoken about how critics impacted his mental health, Sokratis, Guendouzi, Ozil and Auba will all not reflect fondly on their time in North London.
Here’s a 29-year-old now saying he’s ‘100 percent convinced’ that players are scared to make mistakes. That’s one of the few leaders in our dressing room admitting that!
Xhaka believed he had played his final game for the club in 2019 when he was subbed at home to Crystal Palace, the crowd’s reaction leading to our captain to throw the armband down and gesture to the stands.
As the Swiss alludes to; many people just go from game to game, result to result.
For many, it was simply a case of the team drawing at home 2-2 with Palace (ironically those same people probably this season celebrated that same result).
In reality, this was a young man who daily was receiving online threats, having death wished on his wife, prayers that his daughter got cancer.
That day, he couldn’t bottle up his feelings anymore.
His Dad was at the Emirates that afternoon. The same Father who told him not to give up in Switzerland and Germany, told him immediately it was time to leave England.
It’s embarrassing to hear teammates ring him or visit him, like it’s a us Vs them scenario.
Xhaka speaks about the backlash never being so intense in the other countries he played in.
It would be arrogant to say those watching the Bundesliga don’t care as much as viewers of the Premiership
The difference in the UK is the culture we have where grown men and women think that the confines of football allows you to act how you want.
Just look at the last Euros.
People have built YouTube channels by verbally abusing their own teams and encouraging others to join in.
It’s ironic that those who have taken offence to Xhaka’s truth, many are those who built views and subscriptions on being allowed to express their opinions, now they don’t like when it’s done back to them.
The host of AFTV think one idea is allow spectators to attend open training sessions and Q and A’s.
Of course, he does!
The reality is, that online platform has done more than any other to create an environment not friendly between fans and players.
If I were an Arsenal player, I wouldn’t want my fans watching me in practise.
To stress this isn’t about saying a player had a bad game or simply not rating them.
The subject himself says that he’s got no problem being judged purely on ability, no. Where the line is crossed is when family is being mentioned, your welfare is being discussed and your being sworn at every week.
My stance has always been an adult should be able to watch Sport without calling another human being the C word but that’s my education.
Xhaka says before he leaves, he wants to do something ‘special’ with the club. Having won two FA Cups he obviously doesn’t see that as ‘special’.
We are not lifting the Prem or Champions League in the next couple of years so unfortunately his legacy will be the breakdown in the relationship between Gunners and Gooners.
How it became fashionable for fans to swear at their own players, and it just be accepted.
That’s quite sad.
Be Kind in the comments
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Yes.too many of them on here.
No Arsenal fans are just like every fan base in the world. Football fans of all teams abuse their opponents, their own players the match officials all game and in their spare time abuse each other. That’s how football fans roll
I think you are right fairfan
I saw the bad comments of other clubs’ fans on YouTube. I reckon Arsenal fans aren’t worse than them and there are always bad apples in all fan base
We just need to make constructive comments with suggestions and solutions, not make death threats or personal abuse
Good article Dan
Has anyone ever even had a look at the Spurs, Man United, Liverpool, Chelsea fans forums when things are not going well?
Just have a scroll through those other club’s fans forums and will find out how toxic they get when their teams are not performing to the expected levels
Just have a look at the Man United fan forums since Fergie left. Got worse under, Moyes, Under Van Gaal, under Mourinho, under Ole Gunnar, etc..
It’s even worse on the Spurs forums. They have been suffering and getting more toxic since the wenger era, they get so toxic about their numerous managers.
When a club / team is not competing or performing for a long period of time, it naturally gets most of the fanbase all emotional, anxious, nervous, very snappy, on the defensive etc.
Even clubs like Everton, Villa etc boo and pelt their clubs and players on a constant basis etc. with Arsenal it’s different, for some weird reason Arsenal FC has the most active fanbase on social media. Serious we have the most active fans that at one point even BBC / MOTD stoppes or banned Arsenal fans from being involved in their online Polls. Our fans would spam these Polls voting for Arsenal players..
And that justifies what exactly?
Are we all sheep as football fans?
One can be critical when giving their opinions, but it has got completely out of hand.
I’ve yet to come across one person who will admit to threatening Xhaka’s family – such hard nuts hiding behind made up names with keyboards in front of them- the definition of being a coward /bully personified.
Being on line is just as bad as being at a game, when it comes to abuse, because we know the players are aware of what is being said.
Hector Bellerin gave as good as he got and was criticised by the same idiots for having the audacity to call them out.
Goonster, I’m not accusing you personally… but trying to understand why you think the sheep mentality excuses everyone who does it.
We, as followers of The Arsenal are better than that.
I was just saying that it’s not only Arsenal fans that are snappy.
If I can remember correctly about 10 years ago the Liverpool fans weee threatening Steven Gerrard for entertaining signing for Chelsea. Liverpool hardcore nutter turned up at his house threatening him.
The same happened to Rooney if I can remember correctly too. The hardcore Man United yobs turned up at his home in mask and machetes etc..
I agree with on on Xhaka, he has endured so much unwarranted hate since he made his first 2 blunders in his first season as Arsenal. Our fans have gotten obsessive towards him since then.
And I am not saying that we should all be sheep. But football fans being abusive and obnoxious is part and parcel of the game. We have to accept it. I hear that we have more than 60 million Arsenal fans around the world. That’s millions of different personalities to deal with. Can’t be done. So you will always have the bad nuts in there. Football has its roots down to the Working class lads mentality. It’s not like Rugby or Cricket, is it?
There are a lot things I don’t about foootball but I have learned to live with them. We used to wax lyrical about how we can’t accept billionaire sugar daddies at Arsenal, how we did not want to pay the ridiculously immoral wages and transfer fees that everyone else was paying. But our mentality seems to have absolutely changed and we have been crying for big money signing (£40 – £70 million) on top of calling for our board to pay some of our players £100,000 – £350,000 a week. A decade back such wages / transfers fees got us disgusted but now we just keep pelting the club to pay such wages and transfers fees. It’s now part and parcel of football.
Thanks for the reply and I take your points on board – but have you, personally, ever reacted in a way that, on reflection, puts you into the “sheep mentality?”
From the way you write, I somehow doubt it and that’s because YOU made a choice.
We all have that choice and, coming from a working class background, that was installed in me from an early age.
As I suggested, every Arsenal fan should read what the abuse has done to Xhaka and ask themselves if that’s how they want to be perceived?
Thanks again for the reply.
I agree. I always try to be as objective as possible in my opinion.
To me it’s absolutely impossible to get everyone to agree on any given issue. You put 2 people together and you will always have 2 different opinions on most issue. Those 2 people will agree on a certain things but they will differ on most.
It’s part of human nature. With 60 million Arsenal fans from around the world you have to expect tribalism, bad manners, ignorance, arrogance, gullibility, unsociable behaviour, objectivity, rationality, Logic, Reason etc. It’s impossible to get one person to conform to given rules but how about trying to make 60,000 or millions of fans that come from different cultures, societies, from around the world conform to anything?
I have come to accept that we are humans but we all have completely different DNA, genes, personalities, mentalities, cultures, we are brought up in completely different ways etc.. As a human species we have never all gotten onto one page on any issue. You will always have differing opinion and actions.
I will give you an example. We all argue about certain players and managers all the time. We all criticise players, managers and board all the time. But we all have differing opinion and how we act on such an issue:
I know people that always say “Just support the players, manager and club and only start criticising at the end of the season blah blah (The likes of TY from AFTV).
You have a certain group that will be negative from the moment the season starts to end. That’s the obnoxious nuts.
You have others the normal majority that will criticise the team / manager / club depending on results, performances per each game.
There is nothing like “The Arsenal way of behaving”. We have and will always have these differing and opposing opinions and individual ways we all deal with any given issue.
Thanks Goonster, you and I have had our differences, but I agree with your comments above 100%
Great Post PJ – your views show the kind of “values” that I somehow associated with The Arsenal so many years ago.
I urge all Arsenal fans to actually read the complete interview with Xhaka and, then, ask themselves if that’s how they want to be portrayed.
I couldn’t care less what other clubs and their fans do – totally irrelevant in my opinion.
Unless, of course, one wants to be connected with situations like the Hiysal(?) stadium riots.
The thought that, because one pays money to watch a game, entitles said person to scream and shout abuse, is so neanderthal in such thinking it beggars belief.
I’ve just read that our club are investigating two “fans” for abusive language and racial remarks from the terraces… if found guilty, throw the book at them.
Excellent article Dan, perhaps it will enlighten some as to why our greatest ever manager refuses to come back to where he belongs…. simply because of the abuse he received and is still receiving today.
Your “please be kind in the comments” sums it all up.
Good article, but unfortunately it’s not a new thing for our fans to turn on their own players. Jon Sammels, a player who scored the winning goal when we won our first European trophy and was part of our first Double squad, was driven out of the club by the boo boys. Other players have also suffered abuse from the terraces.
As for that AFTV lot, the host Robbie, was a Luton fan until the mid 80’s when he then decided to become an Arsenal fan. His sidekick, Liam Good enough, DT is a Bertie and is now locked up for assault, attempted kidnapping and carrying a knife. 🤞that channel soon folds.
I saw a video last week with Elneny and he was saying how it’s gets to a player when the crowd boos whenever there was a bad pass. I can understand groans, but not booing.
Another player who suffered the same fate was David Price, but in those days we didn’t have the technology that allows these morons /cowards to be so aggressive , not only to the player, but his family as well.
Seems you and I have a lot of similar thoughts – who would have thought that!!
And I always liked David Price as a player. Good player who always put in a good shift. Was never a world beater, but an honest player. Was a very humble man
I believe he drives a London cab these days – at least the last time I looked him up he was.
Can you imagine ANY of today’s prima donnas doing that when they retire?
A few years ago I read a piece about Paul Davis. In it he said there was one particular game at Highbury where he was chasing a ball down the wing towards the Clockend when he heard a woman shout Run you black bast**d. The ball went out of play and the woman was still shouting at him. He looked at her and couldn’t believe that she was black. Unbelievable !
It’s true about Sammy Herr Drier, lovely footballer, only missed out on being part of our first double winning side because of injury I seem to recall but because he didn’t appear “to get stuck in” like, say Peter Storey, he got the treatment and as you say there have a been a few over the years
However back then the crowd abuse was more basic and occasionally done with a bit of humour, not right but I don’t remember some of the vile stuff that goes on now, maybe as you say it’s because of social media
Xhaka has cost us a lot of points.
He never learn from earlier mistakes.
Of course the fans get frustrated.
What did he expect?
He expects his daughter not to be wished she had cancer or wife sent death threats based on a football match
Threats and abuse go beyond the pale, decent respectable human beings agree with this.
However, fair criticism is fair. Strolling on the pitch, not fighting for 50/50 balls, jogging back rather than hustling to track back and help teammates is different.
Most people want to see 100% effort and fight on the pitch. Can anyone say the players gave 100% and fought their hardest against Palace or Brighton?
By no means an excuse to curse,spit, or threaten anyone ever.
But they lacked spirit, urgency, intensity, and fight. None of those require talent, just strength of will and physical effort. Those last 2 matches were worthy of criticism for the players and manager, but not threats or verbal abuse.
I wonder if Xhakas ever thought about all the times he’s got up in a referees face and finger pointed given them abuse for a decision he might have thought was wrong ,walking away flapping his arms telling them to Fck off .
How many times have we seen a bunch of players hounding the ref like a savage pack of hounds when the emotions are running high maybe that is what happens with fans when players make mistakes ,that’s part and parcel of a footballer I’m afraid and as been going on since I started watching 30 odd years ago .
Obviously the scummy fans that hide behind their screens with the online abuse is completely different but they really aren’t worth discussing in my view and just best to ignore the imbreds ,most of them wouldn’t say boo to a goose if confronted in person .
The timing of this article is also perfect, just when I was getting a little nervous of the toxic atmosphere returning to the stands.
I had mention it in a previous comment, look what Luis Suarez did at Liverpool, and they welcome him back in there fold with open arms, I said at the time it could never be Arsenal.
I said at the time also I wish our supporters were like Liverpool, football smart.
Look at Athletic Madrid last night even though they lost stayed back and cheered team for there effort.
Justifying our poor mannerisms towards our players because others has done it, is not just irrelevant but very sad.
I was in New York a couple seasons ago, I saw a fan went up and ask Henry, of all the grounds he had been to, which ground and fans impressed him the most, without hesitation he said Liverpool,
Henry went on to say their was something electric about that place.
Excellent article Dan as per usual.
Personally I don’t think abuse towards players from ‘stadium’ fans has changed much over the years, I can remember my 6 year old son asking me what ‘F’ meant and that was nearly 50 years ago!! Social media is the problem now not only in sport but in all aspects of life.