Arsenal fans should not accept the continuing abuse towards our own players

Have We Become Bad Fans? By Dan Smith

The Data science company Signify spent a lot of time and energy into making football aware of how much abuse some players have to live with. So It’s only right that I use this platform to spread that awareness

The saddest part is these results no longer surprise me. If I had asked most gooners to guess the two names subjected to what has been described as ‘racial’ and ‘homophobic’ slurs, then I would imagine most of guessed Xhaka and Bellerin

That’s because in 2021 there are a minority of idiots with a sense of entitlement who feel that someone not performing well in a sport justifies vile trolling.

Arsene Wenger had warned that the club was in danger of losing the proud values they were known for, called the ‘Arsenal Way’ with the motto ‘Victoria Concordia’ (Victory In Harmony)- doing things the right way.

Our ex-manager said this on the eve of an FA Cup Final having finished outside the top 4 for the first time. So for him to say this, knowing he was already under pressure, showed that this was a genuine concern

Since then the likes of Xhaka and Mustafi both opened up about how the severity of what they read online affected their mental health.

The response to Xhaka’s statement a week after he threw down the captain’s armband at home to Palace highlighted a trend within the fan base. It seemed some were interested in our (then skipper) saying ‘sorry’ more than the actual horror of a young man having to live with threats on his wife’s life and wishes for his daughter to get cancer.

There were reports that the club wanted Mustafi to extend his contract just to protect his value. When the defender said ‘no’ some supporters had the audacity to say he should never play for us again if he wasn’t going to be loyal. Again that sense of entitlement – who was he to say ‘no’ to us?

Yet if I were free to negotiate with other employers, I too wouldn’t want to work for a fan base where I’m abused by my own fans, and certainly would see the irony in them now asking for loyalty.

Don’t get me wrong, the majority of gooners are decent enough to know that in sport you can win or lose, you don’t have a divine right for anything. The fact I’m writing this and you are reading means we are passionate about the game, but most of us wouldn’t take it so seriously that we would even think about discriminating someone.

Yet are we guilty for enabling it?

The rise in social media has allowed opinions to be shared around the world within seconds. It means that a new generation of fan will grow up thinking it’s okay to call someone the C word if they play badly and actually think that is how a supporter behaves

They will be educated into thinking that the only way to debate is by shouting loudly and saying the F word.

Back in July I shared the news that a fan on AFTV had been kicked off for a racial slur. The initial reaction by some was to call me jealous of the channel for mentioning it. Just think about that.

Someone can’t understand why I expect to be able to go on YouTube and not hear racism? That makes me the problem.

In that moment, it’s not about Arsenal or AFTV. It’s about one person abusing another and having the ability to empathise with that, and understand that it’s bigger than football.

If I heard that in the stands I would report it, so why have we taught ourselves that social media is any different?

But what are fans talking about more. How to stop this abuse or ridiculous conspiracy theories about referees?

I don’t use Twitter, I only use Facebook to contact friends and Family, but if you live in that bubble, you see things, read things and yet ignore much.


According to SkySports, Over a 30-Day period …….

out of 20,004 posts about Xhaka. 1,374 were highlighted as potential abuse

16 focused on racism

6 threatened violence


That’s just a month’s worth off Twitter.

If that doesn’t make you ashamed then I can’t help you.

That is someone’s son, brother, husband, dad, who is getting a thousand abusive messages a month for not being good at his job apparently.

Both Arsenal and Twitter have paid the usual lip service to it. Both have the power to act but won’t.

Twitter at any point could make users identify themselves in the same way you have to if setting up a betting account.

Arsenal could boycott social media in protest.

Neither will happen due to money.


Let me stress again this is not all gooners.

Yet let’s not pretend it’s not happening. Let’s not accept it.

We see it and hear it all the time. Even passive aggression like mocking Bellerin for growing plants and trees. There’s an undertone of anger towards the joke.

The reason I say be kind in the comments is because you should be able to discuss football without getting angry.

Youtubers who claim to be alternative media. Guess what? Sky Sports don’t call someone the C word if they under hit a corner.

The irony being those who do these things then don’t like being called out themselves.

Arsene Wenger was right. We have fans who have damaged our reputation. That’s why sometimes I say that certain fans deserve where we are at. Those who abused the greatest manager in our history deserve to now sit there scratching their heads wondering what went wrong.

Like how in 80’s fans of Chelsea, Leeds and Millwall grew a reputation for being unlikable, I would argue that no fanbase has regressed more than Arsenal’s in terms of perception.

It’s not every Arsenal fan but equally it wasn’t every Millwall, Chelsea or Leeds fans in previous decades. It only takes a few to ruin your perception.

Rival fans when seeing Arsenal have lost will say they can’t wait to go online and watch AFTV. That’s why at the end of last year there were clashes and chants opposed to AFTV. To many they represent the modern-day fan on social media who have made us seen by some as a joke.

At the very best we are laughed at, mocked for our arrogant claims. At the worse, we are seen as a fanbase who don’t support their own and who pick on their own players.

So to one Gooner to the other ……Let Get Better at Being kind To One Another



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Tags Mustafi Xhaka


  1. Very good article, every club will have them but i feel we suffer badly from social media fans, it’s disgraceful they way they jump on a players back, and also correct that aftv have been a big part of that, a bigger platform to reach more people, the way they let snarling spitting ” fans ” to constantly attack players after every game , aftv has lost its way a fair while back when the money thet suddenly found was to be made from it overtook the original good intentions it has as a platform for fans, it is embarrassing how many fans 9f other clubs constantly find us easily targets due to our own fans desire to hate aspects of our club or team, I’m not saying players shouldn’t be held accountable and accept criticism but it goes way beyond sometimes what is acceptable,

  2. A sobering articvle DAN and my applause for writing it. I have long lived with the dilemma of whether or not I personally should even be on social media at all. On the one hand it has done so much good throughout the world in educating people and moving on the evolvement of almost all we humans.
    But their exists a tiny in percentage though large in numbers of creaures who are physically similar to humans but who lack a soul, who lack any decency and who lack all compassion and who have a propensity to deliberately hurt others.
    Whether to call these creatures “humans” at all, is a dilemma I wrestle with constantly. The only PRACTICAL way to stop the hurt they do is to force government to force social media companies to identify them. And then to jail them!

    1. I don’t think you got the Gist of the Article Jon boy .
      Where you have gone over it and been all mighty with your crusade against online abuse I think you missed the part where you fall bang in the middle of it .
      Your constant belittling of our players and fans on here is something to behold .
      A day does not go by without you abusing certain players on your no good list , constant abusing of posters who you think are not in your intellectual league ,writers who you constantly abuse and also tell us that the Articles are not up to your standards and this website is only here to make money .
      I could go on and on over the years you have posted but I will leave it there as with all online bully’s they always fee hard done by if threatened with home truths ,and you will probably email Pat to get this deleted .

      1. dan kit, you need to learn that there is a world of difference between what you incorreectly regard as abuse andACTUAL real abuse.
        I believe in plain, to the point speech with no ambiguity at all. That is NOT abuse and at your age you really should know the difference . But clearly you do not!


        1. “I believe in plain, to the point speech with no ambiguity at all”

          Fair enough you do and I’m no saint but you really do toe the line between free speech and abuse, some of your insults you throw on here are very unwarranted and very scathing

        2. Once again Jon you skirt around the subject and the matter at hand .
          Where I have pointed out your misgivings you have not once said in your post you are sorry for your non manners and bullying ways .
          You came back with this Snowflake chorus but forget about your infamous “ I’m going to get my lawyer involved “quote .
          I get that you are Pro in betting ,opera ,English literature,birdwatching ,surfing ,knitting,snowboarding,pizza baking ,politics,bolitics,rock climbing,fork bending and any other pro activity,but maybe become a Pro in learning some manners .

          1. This post of yours danny boy was just plain insults. Insults are not abuse and to me it is water off a ducks back I simply point out that you too use plain speech when you want to. But on this occasion -and correctly too- I have no doubt you will not regard YOUR post as abuse . As indeed it is NOT. It is plain speaking and is your opinion. Not mine of course but I will defend anyones right to give their free opinion, yours as well as mine or anyones elses.

            I know what constitutes abuse and my posts do sometimes offend but are not abuse. Insults are not abuse, which is something quite deliberately done to hurt the recepient . I merely want to make my point and never anything else.

            Now you know, though I realise that ironically, you will not accept this truth. You have your own prejudice about me, as you show in almost every reply to me you make. And such is your perfect right too. As it is mine too.

            Your false list of my “accomplishments” shows your obvious jealousy so extraordinarily well. Just thought you should know that !

          2. “my posts do sometimes offend but are not abuse. Insults are not abuse, which is something quite deliberately done to hurt the recepient . I merely want to make my point and never anything else.

            You do know that a post can do both of these thing simultaneously? And yours often do.

  3. Thank you Dan. We need to speak about the abuse and educate our fellow Gooners, that this kind of behavior has no place anywhere in society not just sports.

    1. Who doesn’t know that threatening players with violence or racially abusing them is bad?

      I very much doubt that education is needed on what’s right vs what’s wrong unless a person is a genuine sociopath.

      What’s needed is real punishment like big fines or imprisonment, not rubbish like weak threats of stadium bans etc

  4. Arsenal’s YouTube channel also doesn’t help those targeted Gunners. Instead of showing the contributions of Xhaka and Bellerin in the matches, the channel prefers to show the flashier players

    Showing what the hated players do for the team is important to educate the fans about the importance of them. Because there are no such highlights, the fans listened to the pundits and the likes AFTV for judging some players

    Xhaka might look like a lamp post instead of a useful player, but his role is as important as Henderson’s at Liverpool. Wenger/ Emery/ Ljungberg/ Arteta/ Petkovic always make him a regular starter and I believe the next manager would also do that

    1. i agree with you. not all teams has complete 11 superstars at every position. in fact its rare. football is a team game, Auba has been off form since the start of the season but not many abuse, whereas Belerin and Xhaka despite bein available and trying their best, most still have to abuse them at every chance. am sure Bellerin depite his ‘lack of potentials’ will have at least 2/3 big european clubs willing to take him from us if he decie to leave today whereas our ‘Golden boy’ Guedozi couldnt find an EPL club to go despite willing to leave.

      1. Bellerin’s detractors have forgotten his sacrifice in FA Cup final last season. Not many players are willing to sacrifice their legs like that for Arsenal

  5. There will ALWAYS be abusive people and racism will always exist. This is a fact of life and people need to understand this. I am not saying it’s right or get used to it but it’s a part of life unfortunately.

    Punishment and laws may reduce the issue but it doesn’t solve the root cause of the problem at all! Your upbringing and friendship group is usually the determining factor of your attitude towards race.

    1. Completely agree with you.
      I’m more worried about the overuse of laws and punishments – they will always least to abuse.

  6. Excellent well put article Dan.
    Racists and “fans” shouting obscenities can easily be identified and ejected from a football ground but until the likes of Twitter and Facebook clean up their act, all we can do as decent folk is show our utter distaste for them and call them out.

  7. i beleive this kind of article will not generate lots of views because its not about attack on Xhaka or Belerin or MA/ any of the new scapegoat.
    This fine article with lots of points to ponder on and make corrections should be written on all arsenal related platforms for all to read and digest. Imagine a season ticket holder abusing one of our own, its appauling.

  8. We have different people with different background and different upbringing! Racism is very difficult to eradicate because some people are just bad and can’t change. However, identifying them and punishing them is essential!

  9. An excellent article Dan.
    I find it soooooo puzzling that the “fans” you describe are also some of those on here, who abused the players you mention…. but why didn’t you highlight the sick abuse that Mesut Ozil was subjected to on Just Arsenal?

    It is easy to point out AFTV and the damage you perceive they have done to the club, but wasn’t the same being done on JA?

    Let’s just remind ourselves of some of the words/phrases used when describing MO :

    Mentally frail, thief, filth, sucking the club dry – all of this being excused as under the umbrella of “free speech”!!!

    While people condemn others for abuse, but see no wrong in posting the kind of vile and abusive language themselves, how can we EVER know what is right or wrong?

    I believe one should treat others as they expect to be treated themselves and I would ask those who used the examples above, if they would like to be abused by someone they have never met?

    1. Well said Ken. The amount of abuse MO got on this very forum was unbelievable. Also unbelievable when Wenger had to remove Eboue in that game against Wigan (I think) after he had just come on as a sub. Wenger said he had to remove him to protect him from some (Arsenal) fans!

      1. @ ahmad73 correct on MO, while I didnt want him back after his last two ineffective seasons, he did get a lot of unwarranted abuse on here.

      2. Too true Ken,many of those lillywhites in the get behind the team argument have never been judged Ozil fairly. I’ve always believed it’s been rascism and envy rather than football related.

    2. Saying “sucking the club dry” is definitely not abuse by any means. That is merely an opinion

      What statement would you draw the line at between free speech and abuse if I may ask Ken?

      Saying someone had a bad game? Lazy possibly? Maybe has been poor lately? Terrible game? Uninterested demeanour on the pitch?

      1. I said exactly where I would draw the line of abuse DMO, the point where I would not want that kind of personal abuse used against me – no matter what the circumstances and by someone who has never met me!!!
        You have been on JA long enough to know that the examples I used, wee part of an orchestrated and ongoing relentless attack against MO, so please be sensible and acknowledge what went on.

        I also notice you didn’t criticise my examples of “filth, thief and mentally frail”… so do I take it you agree with those examples?

      2. This lazy excuse is just that ,can’t believe some idiot came up with that and some fans follow suit ,calling a professional Athlete lazy is IMO really Pathetic .
        I think you really need to look up the definition not lazy .
        Maybe defund show us you’re proper name rather than try and take the piss out of other posters .

          1. It will be someone within the last week you have fallen out with Rory ,Pat should know from their IP address unless they are using a VPN .

  10. I believe i mentioned some names of some of those guilty of the abuse on here&the admin didn’t approve it

  11. Thank you, thank you, thank you. As an Arsenal fan since 12 years of age, I’m now 80 yrs old, I have been disgusted by what I’ve read on line. Unfortunately, as I have never lived in England, and currently live in Canada, I’ve only had the privilege of watching Arsenal play once, a few years ago. This was a gift from my family in celebration of our 50th wedding anniversary. Fortunately, the fans around us at that game, while being very vocal, were all positive, except for the very few audible groans. For me, to be a Gunners fan from a distance, all these years, has been a privilege. I will continue to support them, win or loose – they are my team!

  12. If you can’t support the team when they lose and win, you’re not a supporter
    We now ask ourselves what it really means to support a team
    Some of us even on this site talk like we know everything, oh arsenal is this, the manager is that and we forget that football changes season in season out.

    personally i was scared for the players this season when fans we gradually coming back, looking back now am a bit relieved there wasn’t much progress there, because the guys would have been absolutely slaughtered during our run of bad form

    nice one mr dan
    keep it up

  13. Congratulations Dan Smith on an excellent article and also Ken1945’s comments.
    It takes a lot of time to phrase sentences correctly (with purpose and not wanting to wound a fellow human being) and long may it continue for the many sensible fans not just here supporting AFC but all over the world.

    Once upon a time, a great man said this (can’t remember his name):

    If you want me to speak for 5 days I am ready right now. If you want to speak for 5 minutes, give me 5 days to prepare.

  14. A poor player is a poor player and it’s every fans right to let this anger or frustration be known. Attacking them for sexual preferences, colour ,religion or politics( unless they are fascist, Trump loving climate deniers) is definitely a No No!

    1. Joe, Great perspective. Sadly, a number of people have not the life skills nor the intelligence to know the key difference between free speech opinions, which may well offend AND on the other hand, deliberately hurtful personal abuse, designed for no other reason than to wound. Insults are not the same as abuse, as you clearly know. So well said.

    2. Joe so abuse is fine as long as they dont agree with your view on climate change or like trump?

      Pretty intolerant stuff.

  15. Jon, I have tried not to converse with you on a one to one basis &regarding this article, but your reply to Joe. S has to be contradicted.

    When you referred to Mesut Ozil as “filth” was that not abusive language?

    What if someone referred to you as filth or mentally frail (or any of your nearest and dearest) – someone who had never met you, but was judging you on, for example, your bowling skills, acting, commitment, or way of life?

    Remember how scathing you were to Mertesaker, when he told the fans how he was physically sick before games?
    You called him a snowflake, amongst other things, yet you have never met the man or knew /considered his condition.

    You are no better or worse than the “fans” abusing Leno, Bellerin, Ozil etc…. but please don’t insult my (or others) intelligence by hiding behind your “freedom of speech” defence – I wonder if you would have called Mesut Ozil “filth” to his face?

    You have every right to say what you want, but PLEASE don’t become the “bleeding heart” when condemning others for using the same abusive words that you have.

  16. This debate is far wider than Arsenal, far wider than footbal or indeed entertainment in western society. What is the right to free speech and when does an opinion or even a fact become abuse? Any but the blandest comedians are getting sued left right and centre for jokes. I have no idea what I am allowed to call people of other races, beliefs or pursuasions as it changes daily. What I am permitted to do or say in the workplace without risking losing my job his dimished to the point where I no longer use humour, no longer touch another person for any reason, no longer differentiate between men and women, I do not refer to ANYTHING to do with race, sex, physical appearance. Perversely I hold doors open for men but not women to avoid upsetting feminists. This time is a watershed, nobody knows how to act and what is or should be allowed. Incredibly polarized society. News media, social media, and now Presidents however can write what they like, invent stories, condemn without trial, ruin lives and drive to suicide without censure. The world has gone crazy. I’m almost glad I’m an old fogey and won’t have to suffer another 50 years of this.
    Believe me my friends, this conversation is not about Arsenal Football Club.

  17. The definition of insult: ‘a disrespectful or scornfully ABUSIVE remark or action’. I’m not English, but I think INSULT and ABUSE are synonymous. Denotatively different but connotatively same.
    For those who keep saying that insult and abuse are different, should desist from applying either of them on our players. @jon fox, you said you insult not abuse. Should I applaud you only insulting and not abusing?

    1. soccer boy – 100% correct with your observations.

      guy – such a profound and very sad look at life today… but would you want to go back to the abusive and intolerance of our youthful days?

      1. The haze of memory. I know that although we treat memories as facts, our minds distort them. I am sure that you too have believed an event from your youth to be true, only to be presented with evidence that your memory has altered the facts. I recall generally a better sense of a society knowing right from wrong and having more “decency”. More politeness and respect for others regrdless of class., There was less leisure time but we always seem to have more time. A stable time – Woolworths, sweet shops, real local pubs, expected to be there forever. Comforting. Any change was slow enough to get used to. A time with more extreme poverty but no drugs, no gun and little knife crime – heck the criminals used to just put their hands up and say “its a fair cop, copper!”. I remember terrace racism although never accompanied by violence, But rarely so much overt hatred towards others just for having a different opinion.
        What is worrying me is the ill-considered, scattergun, often contradictory rapid changes taking place and, the potential polarisation they are causing. Jail for not paying Council tax, nothing if you publicly threaten or wish somebody dead. Thase are my rose tinted memories Ken!

  18. I doubt the problem with abusing players, other fans, owners etc. is a problem that is particularly bad among Arsenal fans.
    But bad behaviour on social media etc. seems to be a growing problem all over, so it is a much bigger problem/issue.

  19. I guess Social Media platforms strictly regulating their Chat mechanisms could be a solution. In the game Among Us, there is an option to censor any and all abusive, insulting word, probably in multiple languages. While it would be hard to code and likely would have detrimental effects, Social Media businesses like Facebook and Twitter should implement this. Afterall Social Media aims to replicate the model of Human Beings social behaviour in public. Would we say the abusive words that we say on social media platforms (me included) if we were out in the public? I guess not! So while a ban could be a lengthy process, coding the chat mechanism might be an instant solution.
    Too bad I am not a CS engineer to know its feasibility, but if a game like AmongUs can do it with a small team of developers with fewer resources, I believe Social media platforms certainly can try that out.

  20. We are all human created equally by God(science for others) Football is a team sport so passionately loved globally and people who identify themselves with clubs are the fans of those clubs globally. Those fans who think their race is superior to insult their own players of different races racially i think have been mentally brought up like so. Its unthinkable here in Africa to even have think of race as a reason to slur. Football is not a do or die to make it personal.

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