MORALITY and its place within football is a topic that quite often comes up for discussion in my household (what exciting lives we lead!), and not a week passes without an incident, or incidents, that challenge our beliefs further.
As Liverpool fans our magical Uruguayan seems to be the central point more often than not for example, yet it is not restricted to action on the field of play or in fact by footballers themselves where our morals are tested.
What I want to do is kick off a discussion about this issue in two parts and hopefully start conversations on both.
On the Pitch
With the social networking explosion we have seen in recent years the whole world has become that much of a smaller place, and the tribal nature of following football is all the more evident.
In the days before even MySpace (remember that?) tribalism existed but was more localised to the team, yet in the modern Twitter age fans from rival clubs can rant and rave at each other from half way around the world.
The ability within 140 characters to push the buttons of your rivals brings out the worst in people. As a Liverpool fan myself for example, the hateful bile I have seen from people about Hillsborough never ceases to amaze or sadden me.
This 140 Character limit of Twitter in my eyes is the epitome of the whole Mcdonaldisation of society George Ritzer talks about (wow check me out), where information is delivered to us in the very briefest of forms, but then swallowed as if a full meal.
The ‘Banter’ thrown at him in some quarters relates to an accusation of rape made against him whilst with Arsenal that was subsequently withdrawn by the complainant as it was a lie. With a nugget of ‘information’ (a rape claim) and the tribalism of football, this spurious allegation that has the potential to ruin a life (ask John Leslie) is used as a put-down.
Supporters of a club will seek out the truth of any situation to defend their own (and rightly so) but in the castigation of others, are happy to act upon the nuggets of information.
Do we have a higher moral tolerance for those that don the shirt of Liverpool, or are we more inclined to research specific events to make sure we have all the facts? Would we defend Bale vehemently for his ‘falling with style’? Would we excuse Terry his misdemeanours?
This section owes a lot to opinion and fact forwarded by Tony Barrett during the course of the weekend. Whilst there has been on-going debates surrounding handballs, officials, diving, ‘wee clubs’ and so on, the majority of us have been distracted away from the real issues that are killing the game we know.
Tony himself quoted the arrangement of a tie like Brighton v Newcastle for a Saturday lunch-time kick-off and Cheltenham v Everton for a Monday night kick-off as examples of how fans are (not) being considered by the FA. These are by no means are limited incidents.
In a week where Morecombe are offering all tickets for their game for free in order to attract support and encourage interest, we are seeing teams in the Premier League charging over £70 for seats. Let us not forget this is merely entry to the ground; when you factor in travel costs, eating costs etc you could easily be looking at £100 a game.
A huge amount of respect and credit to those who never miss a game home or away but I just do not know how they fund it!
Portsmouth in particular is getting like a bad joke the way the club has been handled and the fans treated. A gripe at the owners/board about not spending money or not renewing a contract is one thing, but owners in these circumstances are systematically destroying, destroyed or attempted to destroy footballing institutions through a combination of greed and incompetence. What is being done to prevent this happening further?
Are we happy with things outside of our control as long as our club is successful? If Liverpool mirrored the trophy haul of Barcelona under Guardiola would you happily pay more for a ticket? Would you care if the club operated debt levels of say, United? Do we as a whole only become concerned once form dips?
Although somewhat brief, I hope I haven’t sounded like a fool on a high horse as this wasn’t my intention. My hope for this piece is to start a discussion on matters that in my mind truly hamper my enjoyment of football.
I enjoy banter but not bile. I love nothing more than seeing my team play but can’t afford it. My club in the high court was depressing and embarrassing. Trying to educate others (and trolls) on the full facts of Hillsborough or even the Suarez cases is hugely frustrating as it seems to make little difference to some.
Please leave your thoughts and points you want to make whether agreeing, disagreeing or raising something new here and come find me on twitter @timdibs