Arsenal v Spurs Comment – Where is the line between banter and nastiness?

I just wanted to share an experience I had from last night’s North London Derby. This is not me saying I’m right or wrong, but I wanted your thoughts on something I observed, as fans’ behaviour is a huge topic at the moment.

The evening before my brother rang to confirm arrangements to meet in London. We hadn’t spoken in a while so were going through various talking points when he asked me my opinion on Sterling’s assertion that the way media reports stories encourages racism. While I don’t agree with that, I expressed my belief that until we change the culture of fans at football stadiums you will never stamp out abuse. I asked him what makes us think it’s acceptable to swear or intimidate another human being -full stop- regardless if they used racial slurs or not?
He thought I was nuts, pointing out that’s the expectation on a match day – no different to you understanding that you don’t use your phone at the cinema, you adapt to the event you happen to be at.

My brother is well educated, I thought it a shame in 2018 the idea of tolerance and respect seemed an amazing unrealistic demand. While the majority are able to see what is going over the line, I feel there is a minority who simply show up with hatred and feel they can say whatever they like, hence with a zero tolerance policy there would be no grey areas.

I believe those 4 Chelsea fans accused of abusing Sterling don’t act that way anywhere else but at the Bridge.
For decades I have been to matches and never thought of using the c word, I was brought up to know it’s a horrible word, my values don’t change because I’m at the Emirates. A man approx in his fifties spent 90 minutes using that language, sometime not in the right context. He sounded like a moron. I only noticed it because of my conversation the previous evening but I was left wondering how this guy’s brain functioned.

Then a chant began effectively mocking Harry Kane for how he speaks. Don’t get me wrong it didn’t anger me but based on our phone call I nudged my brother almost has an example of where’s the line between banter and not being pleasant. Now I accept I was in the minority, more peeps were singing then not, thankfully changing it to what he’s won (which is banter). My brother though told me to sssh, if I didn’t like it, I should stay at home. I know my brother, he gets easily embarrassed and cares what others think. He didn’t want people next to me to hear my opinion as he knew I would be opposed by the majority. Now it wasn’t like I was going to run to my nearest steward, but it confirmed my original thought process. That in the confines of a football stadium it is popular belief that you can be as poisonous if you are not breaking the law.

Here I was feeling that I was weird, that I was odd. My brother was reprimanding me for having the values that mocking people for how they talk is going too far. And guess what, the hatred builds and builds to the point where yet again an object is thrown. I accept I’m in the minority here, but we can’t have it both ways. Do we want to clean up the game or leave it how it is? We can’t pick and choose what is deemed nasty as that is subjective. Laugh how Kane talks but then don’t complain if Stoke chant that Ramsey runs with a limp.

Interested in your thoughts….

Dan Smith


  1. Mike says:

    I was at the match. I did not like the song about Harry Kane and his speech. Regardless of our rivalry with Spurs, Harry Kane seems like a decent enough guy. I remember fans mocking Roy Hodgson for the same. It’s not right. We can sing about Spurs not winning Sh*# or not having a home stadium, but the personal insults are wrong.

    1. Sue says:

      Spuds fans chant about Sol Campbell dying…it’s not right….I don’t like anything like that – And I absolutely can’t stand hearing the C word, that is absolutely vile… it’ll never change though…

      1. Break-on-through says:

        I hate when woman totally make fun of my man-flu.

        1. Midkemma says:

          Well said.
          Joking aside, how is Corbyn being hounded like he raped someone for saying stupid people? Twisted to be stupid woman but even then… not like he is bashing all women by claiming it is a female trait to be stupid… like women claim men can’t handle a little cold by insinuating it is a MAN-flu.

          1. jon fox says:

            Except that he CLAIMED – though that is clearly a lie – that he actually said about all Tory MP’s “stupid people” . Many of those same MP’s are women. So is he then claimng it is allowable to call many dozens of women and all the men on the Tory side “stupid” but he chose not to apologise when he actually called just ONE of thoe Tories, the Prime Minister, “stupid”? PERHAPS HE THINKS IT OK TO INSULT A WHOLE PARLIAMENTARY PARTY BUT IS TOO ASHAMED TO ADMIT THAT HE ACTUALLY CALLED JUST ONE , THE PM ” STUPID.” THE HYPOCRISY AND SHEER HUMBUG OF MOST MP’s across the whole House of Commons sickens me! The ludicrous overreaction to this insult too from the government side is predicably childish and hypocrical too, as was Corbyns side too.

          2. ken1945 says:

            Jon, that’s what I call a perfect summing up of a story that affects only those who want to be affected by it, in order to be noticed and act as if they are affronted to their core.
            All politicians believe that we, the unwashed and uneducated, are so gullible we actually care about their childish, boorish, ridiculous behavour.
            There are more important things to do, like finding that moron from last night and brought our club and it’s fans into disrepute.

          3. Mwsupporter says:

            Not wishing to turn this into a political debate, in this case the comment is not the issue, the fact that having been called out, he lied saying he said something else when it’s absolutely obvious to all he said stupid woman. Politians in it for themselves and not the people they are supposed to represent, Arsenal are considerably more important than all politics as all politians won’t change.

  2. Break-on-through says:

    Fans use football to vent, whether hard at work, dealing with problems, all sorts of human conditions. They go to vent and to receive a high if things go well, a bit of both. Not that that isn’t obvious. People are different, unless you take specific cases, how can you change a football culture.

    For me, this only becomes bad when fans aim it at their own, that must really hurt a player. I reckon the players love the away teams hostilities, it’s what makes beating a team so worth it (that and the prize). Look at Dele Ali, little s**t, but he would’ve loved every moment of that.

  3. Durand says:

    I’m sure opinions vary, so I can only comment on how I was raised to be a gentleman. I’m from the SE United States and well acquainted with Jim Crow laws of the South.

    It’s a free speech issue, and free speech has consequences. You don’t need to protect speech you agree with, its the minority or even shocking speech that needs protection.

    There is only free speech or censored speech; I for one would rather hear the bigots and racists rather than them lurking in shadows. We have free speech to denounce them, debate them to expose their ignorance.

    I don’t approve in any way what was said, but support their right to say or express it; no matter how ignorant or deplorable.

    Otherwise, who decides? Me? You? The majority? Best left to freedom to speak freely.

    1. Break-on-through says:

      Total agreement mate, you sound like you’d be good on a debate team. I liked the part about protecting the speech. Sometimes I feel that PC sort of makes a mockery of free speech.

      1. Durand says:

        Thanks Break-on-through, much appreciated. The PC culture is wrecking havoc, and it is designed to intimidate people into silence because they could not make adequate points in a debate. PC seems to be based on “feelings” and “emotions” rather than logic and reason. It’s dangerous when it comes to limiting people’s freedoms based on someone else’s subjective views. When legislation and laws are based on feelings and emotions, then we are well and truly done as a free and civil society. In my opinion anyway,

    2. Midkemma says:

      Well said. I take my hat off to you sir, true words of wisdom.

    3. jon fox says:

      What a wonderful, well thought out and thoroughly sensible post from a man who clearly reflects the good qualities we should all aspire too, at whatever forum , sporting or social event we may be. I do not however agree with “however ignorant or deplorable” as there should always be boundaries. There is of course an acceptable line of banter as distinct from hate, sheer spite and ignorance. But the problem arises when a sizeable minority, perhaps as many as 20%, have not the inate wit to understand the difference. One indication of this lack of fan wit, in general is the dreadful so called songs that pass as wit. When I was very much younger and used to go regularly to all our away games, 1966 to 1979ish, I used to spend travelling time writing witty lyrics concerning then current players, fan types and managers, plus club history. I soon learned that the averge fan wit was like a five year olds compared to mine. What I am saying is that sophistication and education do not fit well in football grounds. The very nature of tribalism repels decent educated comments and unbiased opinions. I have spent ages on this forum trying, but failing, to show our own fans how much harm is done to our club, by biased talking up of our own players , some(only some, obviously) who do not give , frankly, a damn for our club but are “stealing” vast wages for practically nothing in return. The longest lasting culprit was Walcott.. CURRENTLY WE HAVE HAVE OZIL CONNING US AND SO BUT TO A SLIGHTLY LESSER EXTENT, SINCE BOTH ARE LAZY, ARE MKHI AND AUBA. Most fans do not welcome or want to see truths that, in effect , remind them that fan hood in relation to players is largely a one way obsession in this modern era. It was totally different decades ago when players had more self respect. When you openly see “ego on legs players” like Pogba being more interested in his immature haistyle and of social media than he is about his football career, no one should be surprised. Frankly, in todays western society, many players, to varying extents, are simply “snowflakes” with no concept of really earning their vast wealth. Honour, true honour, is in short supply both on and off the pitch. Most will disagree with what I write here, which to me amply proves the truth of what I write.

    4. TH14atl says:

      Durand your perspective on those Jim Crow laws, is that as a member of the majority, or as a member of the oppressed minority? Curious.

      1. jon fox says:

        Should that make any difference to an honourable person I ask myself!

        1. ken1945 says:

          Durand, we have had for a long time respected each other, both in views, comments and facts researched.
          I always feel privileged when we debate, sometimes in total agreement other times not so, because I know that whatever you say is both sincere and heartfelt and your initial contribution is yet another example of this.

          TH14 is another good debator and I can see a interesting correspondance starting here if I am reading between the lines correctly.

      2. Durand says:

        TH14atl “majority” and “minority” are relative to location. The “majority” in Detroit is not necessarily the majority, as an example.

        I’m a white male raised to be open-minded and think for myself. I was raised to judge people on the content of their character, not the color of their skin, as Martin Luther King jr. so aptly put it.

        I remember very well the social ills of the 70’s here in the States and the tribulations faced by many. However I must also say I am also unaware of “white privilege” that is spoken of now. It’s a misnomer because it should be “rich” privilege because growing up poor and white was not a bonus or beneficial in any way.

        The poor are all in the same boat, and there is no gravy train regardless of color.

        Only people holding us back are ourselves here in the States, as there are many avenues to success if one is willing to outwork others and never ever quit.

        I grew up in poverty, paid my own college and worked fulltime, and have 3 degrees, published 5 times, and currently teach Science; taking a break from economics.

        1. TH14atl says:

          I’m gonna jump around here, so please forgive me if my response doesn’t go point-for-point. you don’t answer my question directly my friend, but that lack of an answer, coupled with the rest of your answer completely substantiates where I believe you knew where I was going in my original question. History will tell you who the “majority” were in our nation in the time period you speak of.

          Furthermore, with the degrees and education you state to possess, you know as well as I do – which you stated I’m so many words – that he who has the gold makes the rules, and in this world – and especially in our country- last I checked the Forbes 500 list, you gotta get to the 200s/300s before you encounter a person of color. What’s that tell you?

          To be unaware of white privilege does not negate its existence.

          Is it rich privilege when the 3 times Ive been pulled over for speeding with my Caucasian wife in the car, each time she is asked if she’s in the car of her own volition, safe, and okay, and asked if she’d like to speak with the officer outside of the car away from her husband? Yet she’s never experienced that when riding with anyone else. Don’t be naive my friend.

          Call it “rich privilege” if you choose, but then see if money had anything to do with the “one drop rule” that existed in this country.

          Paid your own college? When were you in school? How many people there didn’t look like you? Any idea why that number was so low? Hahah come on man.

          In all reality we’re not going to agree on this, as we’ve lived two entirely different lives growin up in southeast America. I’m not trying to change your mind, as that’s impossible and could only likely yield frustration and anger.

          Things have progressed, sure, but to openly state that it should be tolerated for ignorant vitriol to be shouted at people based on the color of their skin/ethnicity/religion/sexual orientation, methinks maybe there were some classes or some subjects you chose not to pay attention to in school, or there were issues that you observed in the world that maybe didn’t quite hit all the way home to you as the color of your skin seldom put you at a disadvantage in any situation.


          1. Durand says:

            True we lived different lives. But i would disagree if you are insinuating anything “came easy” for me. 7 yrs in college for 4 yr degree while working full time had nothing to do with color.

            Community college was my first, all i could afford. And there were more “who didn’t look like me”. As you chose to put it. I worked up and past 2 universities by drive and motivation, not favoritism over the next several years.

            I was disappointed that skin color was your reasoning far too often and detracts from real debate.

            Economic factors don’t discriminate, a point you sorely missed.

            If you had paid more attention in civics and history you would understand my comments on free speech as distasteful as it is. Ask people in a dictatorship if they would tolerate offense language along with free speech.

            Our upbringings were different, and you seem to make assumptions about my potential comments; that we don’t agree, or I may get frustrated or angry?

            Sadly we agree more than you realize my friend.Frustrated? Perhaps, because your assumptions are based on color not character; the very judgements you are speaking against, sadly you don’t see it. But not angry, it never solves or heals problems, only creates reprisal.

            Thank you for the conversation, but I refuse to see the world in only black and white as you seem to imply.

            We view the world through a lens of our own creation. I choose content of character as my lens, let others choose theirs. Long live free speech

          2. Durand says:

            Lastly I would say that if my original comment was dependant or more relevant because of skin color, then what has become of truth? Does truth have a color? A gender? Does free speech?

          3. TH14atl says:

            How you somehow turned this as an attack on your upbringing is beyond me. You’ve seem to sorely miss the boat on this one. Whether or not you specifically had to work hard for what you specifically obtained has no direct relevance as to the existence of *white privilege* (as you so gracefully introduced into the conversation unprovoked). Every other tangent you’ve embarked on since then doesn’t warrant response, as that would continue to keeping the discussion off topic.

            My original comment of if you grew up in the indisputable-white-majority in the time period that you claimed to have not really observed the existence of racism/bigotry/intolerance in, coupled with your being so “well acquainted with the Jim Crow laws” as you put it, makes me question how you could think it should be tolerated to have people shout hateful, despicable, racist remarks at people in the streets (let alone athletes on the field). I assumed (potentially incorrectly on my part) that only a person in the majority (as it pertains to racism – more specifically *the shouting of racist remarks by a white person to that of black person in an effort to degrade, belittle, and demean said black person*) could stomach the notion that a person should be obliged to scream such things at another person in the street, as surely that person has never experienced this personally & likely didn’t have family or many friends that had either.

            Judging from where you chose to take this convo, what initial points/questions of mine you chose to respond to and chose to ignore, and how you attempted to turn this how you did, you’ve confirmed my belief. So all in all, I’m all set on this one, unless there’s something else you’d like to say.

            Take care fellow gooner.

          4. Durand says:

            Just disappointed you view things through the color of one’s skin as a primary response. I was merely saying free speech is 1st amendment right (among many) for a reason, and must be protected, even speech we dislike.

            We have a right to free speech, not right to be unoffended, for good reason.

            We obviously disagree on free speech, and maybe that will not change.

            Sadly it seemed to matter to you the color of my skin, perhaps you should ask why that matters to you?

            Speech is either free or censored; I choose freedom, warts and all, sadly you obviously do not. I wish you well my friend, and thank you for the honest conversation.

  4. Adajim says:

    can we have an in-depth analysis of our U23 /youth squared performance? Most of us want UE try a few guys from there, do we actually know their strength, ? Admin over to you sir. Compliments

  5. Tom says:

    My opinion is that an event like a football match can offer two extreme emotions driven by the feeling of winning or the feeling of losing.

    Whether it be win or loss (or even when a draw feels like a winning draw or losing draw) the emotion is stroked up by the ability a match can take us into a temporary environment where we can express ourselves whilst in a huge crowd.

    Ask yourself. Would the disgraceful person yesterday throw a bottle if he was in a crowd of 1 or the 4 racists at Chelsea if they would of been the only 4 (plus the players, staff, ref, cameras..Obviously) in the stadium

    I have doubts. I recall watching Boca Juniors at the chocolate box in Buenos Aires and they have this die-hard fan everyone knows who is positioned behind the goal in the stands and all game he faces the crowd encouraging them to be loud and rude and disrespectful. His job, as it was told to me is to do this and only this. Their no.1 fan who doesn’t even watch the match !!! Wtf

    Anyway, i feel it’s the ability to hide in a crowd that makes this cowards feel empowered. It just needs a larger group to finally say enough is enough.

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