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