Football and Fans: No-one likes us, we don’t care
BRITISH football fans are some of the most maligned people in the world.
When the press mention the fans, you know that they’re taking about the kind of people who throw garden furniture while stocked up on Super Bock. When football-haters say they hate fans, no-one ever really corrects them to point out that it is only a minority of football fans who sing loudly in the street and vote UKIP.
What with football being the most popular sport in the world, it stands to reason that the majority of people who watch it are nice, calm, considered, into films and music and invariably drink less than your average depressed middle class housewife.
But people don’t like football fans. Football fans are bad.
If you look toward clubs, they’re not keen on fans either, despite constant proclamations of love for ‘the passion’ that fans bring. That passion, in the modern game, is used solely as a marketing tool to sell the corporate hospitality boxes and work sponsors up into parting with more cash. Clubs earn money from TV rights, not season tickets. As far as television is concerned, it doesn’t matter who you support, as long as you’re watching.
This week, Nigel Pearson said Leicester fans could “stay at home” after his side were beaten by Liverpool 3-1. He said: “I had a spat with a fan towards the end. If they cannot see the players are having a proper go maybe they need to stay at home.”
Of course, the various football associations and world bodies like UEFA and FIFA notoriously couldn’t care less about the fans. A series of stadium disasters were the only thing that snapped the governing bodies out of their nonchalance. Fans have to die before the people that run the game take notice.
The media notoriously loathe football fans, only every showing them on their pages and newsreels when someone is throwing their season ticket at a manager, fighting, singing unpleasant songs or what have you. Even when an entire city – Liverpool – refuses to buy The Sun for the appalling things said about those at the awful Hillsborough disaster, people still choose to side with the press when it comes to passing judgement on fans. Even the amount fans pay to watch football on TV in England is the most expensive in the world, with the rights held so close to the companies that own them, that you either watch it on Sky or Match of the Day, or whistle (unlike most American sports who give highlights away for free online).
Even the players can’t be relied on to stick up for the supporters. Wayne Rooney famously had a pop at the England fans who booed a poor performance.
Ticket prices have gone up, fans are lambasted when their air grievances (as we’ve seen with the mocking of Arsenal fans who would like to see Arsene Wenger replaced), but also blamed for a lack of atmosphere (see The Chosen One’s comments about Chelsea). When something spontaneous happens, as we’ve seen at Tottenham with the pitch invaders or the plane-with-a-banner stunt at Manchester United, fans are further derided.
Inside the grounds, the modern football fan is a passive noise generator, asked only to pay-in and sit in a seat that is inferior to the sponsors, to politely clap, buy some merch and go home to watch the replays on television.
Outside the stadiums, they’re looked at, en-masse, like they’re all, at best, an inconvenience or, at worst, hooligans. Even thought the statistics don’t add-up – look at how trouble-free Manchester United’s Old Trafford is, despite having the equivalent of a music festival passing through the turnstyles every week – football fans are, to naysayers, stupid scumbags.
Naturally, there are some gasping idiots who like football, but such is anything that is popular. Some awful people drink wine and there’s probably a good number of racists who own a George Foreman mean, lean grillin’ machine. Ever seen someone punch someone in the face? You can guarantee that they’ve got a shower in their house.
Yet we don’t see showers, fatless pork chops and shiraz being associated with idiots.
And what’s the outcome of all this? Malaise. A great deal of people have become disenfranchised with the game, preferring to enjoy it as a whole, from afar, be it through video games or just watching it on TV because, the reality of it is that it isn’t worth the hassle. The sport loved by so many is run by corrupt arseholes, reported on by people who actively dislike or ignore supporters, inhabited by teams and managers who are ambivalent about those sat in the stands.
No-one like us… and we’re not able to muster up the same level of care as we once had.