Liverpool FC wants its fans and staff to be Thought Police narks
LIVERPOOL FC’s widely distributed list of things you cannot say has yet to be handed to all fans entering the Anfield ground. Your moral credentials will not be checked at the gate…yet.
I have said infantile things at football matches, mostly when I was young and thought it funny and possibly liberating to sing things I would never sing at a polite dinner table; belting out abusive lyrics to songs like the First Noel:
Hoddle, Hoddle, Hoddle, Hoddle
Born is the Queen of Golder’s Green
That’s racist! Nowadays it could be. I knew that words cold hurt. Well, that was the idea. You get worked up in support of your own team and say things designed to damage the opposition. You don’t mean it. The song was targeting Spurs’ best player and the fans, many of whom are Jewish (Golder’s Green has a considerable Jewish demographic). It would also be now classed a homophobic. Hoddle is not the King of Israel, as the Spurs fans might have had it. He was the Queen. Was I a homophobic anti-Semite? No. I just thought it was funny. The song did not show me in my true colours. They were just part of the match.
Was Hoddle offended? No. He just smiled and – get this – later became a born again Christian.
(It was he who said: “You and I have been physically given two hands and two legs and half-decent brains. Some people have not been born like that for a reason. The karma is working from another lifetime. I have nothing to hide about that. It is not only people with disabilities. What you sow, you have to reap.”)
Arsenal fans also had this to say about their own Nwankwo Kanu:
He’s big, he’s black, he’s had a heart attack, King Kanu, King Kanuuuuu
All factually correct. But racist? What about this song sung by Spurs fans at Sol Campbell when he returned to White Hart Lane with Arsenal:
Sol, Sol, wherever you may be,
You’re on the verge of lunacy,
And we don’t care if you’re hanging from a tree,
Judas **** with HIV.
Offensive? Of course it is. It’s horrible. It’s meant to be. But is it racist? One Spurs fans said:
“This is a national witch hunt. It was not racist. Our fans are being demonised. It is no worse than the fans who sing Arsene Wenger is a paedophile. The Campbell song is not racist.
“The line in the song that he is “swinging from a tree” is from the bible because Judas was found hanging from a tree. It is not racist. On Saturday, Manchester United fans claimed we were “p****.”
The Daily Mail said it was racist:
If it is not racist, it has racist connotations. It is hardly a massive leap from the words ‘hanging from a tree’ to the Lynch Laws in America, when black people were routinely found hanging from a tree.
You see. You have to analyse the words. Police shouting “niger, nigger, nigger” as they confronted rioters in the 1980s was pretty obvious racism. Chucking bananas at Watford’s John Barnes was racism. Such things are, mercifully, of the past.
(Although some don’t understand how offensive racism is; how loaded with years of systematic abuse it is. Jimmy Hill defended Ron Atkinson’s saying of Marcel Desailly, “He is what is known in some schools as a f**king lazy thick nigger” with this: “What about jokes about my long chin? I mean, nigger is black – so we have jokes where we call them niggers because they’re black. Why should that be any more of an offence than someone calling me chinny?”)
But football chants – the best ones – are subtle, aren’t they. Peter Tatchell thought so:
“Hanging from a tree” could be a reference to a racist lynching, or more likely, to Judas’s guilt-ridden suicide after betraying Jesus. Or, perhaps, to the death of footballer Justin Fashanu who hanged himself in 1998, after years of anti-gay taunts.
Maybe it just rhymed and caught on easily?
Rod Liddle was unimpressed:
The remarkable thing about this chant is that it was grotesquely offensive in almost every conceivable way except racially. There was no mention in that vile little ditty of Campbell’s racial origins or even an allusion to them, no matter how closely you poke around in the text, like a sort of demented Jacques Derrida. And yet the main objection to the song was that it was “racist”.
Is it now racist to sing this at Spurs fan?
Away in a manger,
no crib for a bed,
the little Lord Jesus stood up and he said…
WE HATE TOTTENHAM, AND WE HATE TOTTENHAM
Is this prejudicial against Liverpool fans?
Sing sing wherever you may be,
don’t leave your wife with John Terry,
it could be worse he could be Scouse,
he’d shag your wife then he’d rob your house.
What about this sung at a South Korean footballer?
Park Park wherever you may be,
You eat dogs in your own country,
It could be worse you be Scouse,
They eat rats in there council house.
Roecastle’s a queer
f**k the Arsenal w**kers
coz they’ve all got gonorrhea
This – sung by Celtic fans?
I hope you die in your sleep Nacho Novo
I hope you die in your sleep, I pray
I hope you die in your sleep Nacho Novo
With a bullet from the IRA
What about when Andy Goram was diagnosed with schizophrenia?
There’s only two Andy Gorams
And if it is homophobic or misogynistic to say man-up – Liverpool say it is (see above) – do tell the club’s manager Brendan Rodgers:
Times have changed. Football is not racist. David James recalled being abused at Blackburn Rovers in 1991:
“Since then, the only racism in football that I have experienced has come from isolated voices in the crowd. Even then it has been some years since I have heard anything like that.”
Of course, it all changed when in 1999, the Macpherson Report into the killing of black teenager Stephen Lawrence said racism was “any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person”.
To the law, context or intent are not relevant. If someone takes offence it is racist.
Liverpool have noted that context matters. But it wants its staff to be “listening out” for certain words that are “usually offensive and the club considers unacceptable”. Everyone now is a Thought Police nark. It wants you to actively listen out for anything that might be offensive and then report it.
Martin Samuel made his point well:
“[A] steady drip of innuendo, point and counterpoint from those who haven’t a genuine clue either way creates the impression that football is a rancid cesspit of racial hatred when it is actually making more young black men rich than any industry this side of MOBO.”
Football is one of the most colour-blind professions. But Liverpool are keen to act as moralists. And it’s not their fault: the Reds are just hooking onto the popular anti-racism mantra that binds the country. Are Liverpool staffers more bigoted than the rest of us? The missive about what you can and cannot say is based on the club’s own prejudices and a need to show off; brandish right-on credentials and preen.
So. Let’s take a look at right-on Liverpool:
The manager: white, heterosexual male
The owners: Fenway Sports Group; owned by: John Henry and Tom Werner (both hetero white males)
John Henry – Principle owner – see above
Tom Werner – Chairman – white, hetero, Jew
David Ginsberg – Vice-Chairman – white, hetero, male
Ian Ayre – Managing Director – white, hetero, male
Michael Gordon – white, hetero, male
All 19 staff listed on the Liverpool site are men. Only one name stands out from the Christian monikers: Zaf Iqbal, the club’s Muslim doctor. Only one other is not white: Sylvan Richardson, the masseur, is black.
So. The club, infected by the PC obsession with language, are championing equality. How about starting at the top? Or why not just let people get on with enjoying the game..?
PS – is Walk On, the Liverpool anthem, prejudicial agasint the disabled?