Sports news, commentary and scores with wit and added value. We compare and contrast the best and worst sports reporting in the mainstream press, blogs, TV and online. We love the English Premier League (Arsenal, Liverpool, Spurs, Manchester United and Manchester City) and all things football but we cover cricket, rugby, the Olympics, tennis, golf, F1 and highlights of the sporting year.
“His lawyer Philip Morris begged for him to be spared a ban, saying: ‘When you are in the public eye and have to offer opinion on people’s football teams you are regularly accosted out in public. Someone once described him as being like Marmite — you either love him or hate him.’”
Chris at Pies takes up the story:
According to The Sun’s report, Savage told the court that he is already regularly heckled in the street by football fans and that his Bentley is one of the few “safe havens” he has left in this world. Yes, the kind of “safe haven” that’s capable of barrelling along at 99mph without a care for anyone or anything outside it.
Anyway, the defence was miraculously successful and Savage escaped with a £600 fine and three points on his licence.
This is Savage who saw Luis Suarez nibble a Serb and opined:
“We were watching in disbelief. The red mist came down and to do that to a fellow professional is shocking and disgraceful. I’ve defended Luis Suarez at times but you cannot defend that. The evidence is conclusive…”
That was indefensible, according to Savage.
Maybe Suarez should have argued that the great unwashed made him do it.
TRANSFER Balls: a lolok at utter drivel being presented as football fact in the mainstream mdia. Today we look at the Daily Express’ story of “Arsenal’s £50m spree”.
Wenger will have a £50m transfer budget this summer to address the failings in his squad… the Arsenal boss will move for Southampton midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin, another centre-back and possibly a goalkeeper.
To which Arsenal fans who read the Daily Express will says, ‘Is that all?’ Becasue not to long ago the Daily Express told Arsenal fans that the Gunners were goiung to invest £80m in Paul Pogba.
Wenger will have a transfer budget this summer that is estimated to be around £50 million.
His first priority is in central midfield and a deal in excess of £20 million for Southampton’s Morgan Schneiderlin is a distinct possibility. Another centre-back is also on the agenda, even after the signing of Gabriel from Villarreal. With David Opsina and Wojciech Szczesny both struggling to convince, their options in goal also remains an issue.
But Wilson is right here. It’s about tactics:
The bottom line, though, is that Wenger basically does now have the squad that he wants and Arsenal’s success or otherwise will essentially come down to his selection, tactics and work on the training ground.
Transfer Balls catches news of Wolfsburg winger Kevin De Bruyne, 23. The BBC notes that the former Chelsea player “says he would be open to a Premier League return”.
One game we play is to see if the media can link a player with all five of the big clubs: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United.
The BBC says “with Manchester United mulling over a £30m bid for the former Chelsea player”.
The BBC delivers this as fact. Only at the end does it say the source for the scoop is the Daily Express.
Over there, the paper reports:
How badly does Kevin De Bruyne want to play for Manchester United? He’s quoted:
“I feel very much at home with VfL Wolfsburg in this very moment. I am able to sign a new contract with Wolfsburg. Life in football can be fast moving. Football is much about money. Wolfsburg is not yet like Bayern Munich, of course. And my biggest ambition is to come out for a big European club. One I can win trophies with. As much trophies as possible.”
That would be Real Madrid, then. Or Bayern Munich. Or PSG. Or… Or… De Bruyne makes not single mention of Manchester Untied, who are not even in this season’s Champions’ League and not close to winning the Premier League.
The Daily Star then spins the balls to take in Chelsea and Arsenal.
Oh. And Manchester City:
And over in the Sun, the news is that De Bruyne is a…Liverpool fan.
The Daily Telegraph likes ‘Five Things…”. It tops and tails most big football matches with a routine ‘Five Things We Learned About…” story. This week it’s been writing about Barcelona before and after the Catalans’ Champions’ League match with Manchester City.
Before the game, Richard Martin was being schooled at Barcelona’s game with Malaga:
After telling class that “City have no reason to fear Barcelona (1.) and Daniel Alves is “sad” (2.) we learn:
3. Luis Suarez is far from the goal machine he was at Liverpool
4. Lionel Messi can be tamed with the right tactics
5. Barcelona’s midfield is not what it was
Suarez scored both goals in a comfortable 2-1 win, which would have been 3-1 had Lionel Messi not missed yet another penalty and prevented Suarez lashing in the rebound.
After the game, Mark Ogden had “Five Things…
1. Kompany is not brilliant; 2. 4-4-2 didn’t work; Agüero is really good; City fans don’t sing and dance all that much when they team are being beaten; and – gawd…. he must get to five. So, here goes nothing:
5: Barcelona playing in “ridiculous” yellow was “another low”.
Talking of lows, the Telegraph used to be the best newspaper. Not any more it isn’t…
ITV watchced last night Champions’ League match between Barcelona and Manchester City. It spotted Luis Suarez, the wonderfully talented striker once of Liverpool and now with the Spanish side. He scored both of Barcelona’s goals in a 2-1 win, and would have had a third has Lionel Messi not gotten in the way of a rebound from his saved penalty kick.
But ITV isn’t intersted in Suarez’s sublime skills. It asks a question:
“Did Luis Suarez have a little nibble on Martin Demichelis last night?”
ITV then answers its own question:
ITV places ‘nibbles’ in inverted commas, suggesting that he didn’t bite the City defender at all, or maybe munched him or ate him while and raw in one gulp.
It’s really is pathetic non-news journalism to look for sensation and crimes to sell a football a match that was blessed with skill, pace and excitement.
The story oozes bullshit from every word:
Watch the former Liverpool man, now playing for Barcelona, run alongside Demichelis on the edge of the area in the video above, where he appears to move his mouth in the direction of the Argentine’s hand.
The Urguguayan was handed a four month ban from football after biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini during last summer’s World Cup, and has been also caught up in biting controversies during his time at Liverpool and Ajax.
Watch a zoomed in version of last night’s incident below.
No. There was no incident. Nothing happened. All we see is Suarez chase a ball and Demichelis attempt to block him by spreading his arms wide at shoulder height.
Suarez never did bite the finger and reduce Demichelis’ digits to nine in number. But Suarez does wear the number ‘9’ shirt. So. We cannot rule out the dawning of a the ‘nine’ cult in which Suarez’s opponents are left with a constant numerical reminder of his presence…
No longer cheering for the Black Shirts, the Daily Mail is now on the side of the anti-racists. And it is disgusted and dismayed at the sight of Chelsea fans abusing a black man on the Paris Metro. The paper’s Neil Ashton laments:
“There is a greater shame here because we foolishly, naively, believed the issue of racism among our football supporters was a thing of the past.”
Is there a culture of racism among football supporters? In the 1980s there was, when black players had banana skins tossed at them and were targetted by monkey noises. But back then the police were shamelessly racist, too, as Mick Hume recalls:
Living in Moss Side, Manchester during the 1981 riots, I remember police vans cruising the streets while riot cops beat their batons on the side and chanted ‘Niggers, niggers, niggers – out, out, out!’. A veteran comrade of mine recalls being arrested in east London around the same time while carrying some Workers Against Racism pamphlets, and being repeatedly asked by the police ‘Do you like monkeys?’ and ‘Why do you live in a monkey cage?’
Racism was open. And it was delivered from the top to the masses below. Demonising blacks and Asians would bind the nation. And now the message from above is of anti-racism. And there is no better way to showcase your anti-racist credentials than by slamming football.
The Mail (number of black faces on the editorial board: nil) reports that any West Ham United fans caught singing nasty songs about Jews on the way to their side’s match at White Hart Lane will be dealt with:
West Ham vow life bans for any fans that ‘behaved in an inappropriate way’ after video emerges of anti-Semitic chant on train
No. Not illegal. No even racist. Inappropriate. When did Mary Whitehouse start running football?
You can see the video here. It’s a few men singing about their penises in public. It’s a bonding ritual, possibly homoerotic. And it is undeniably offensive.
Sam Cunningham and Christian Gysin press f9 on their keyboards and hear from Lord Ouseley, Chairman of anti-racism in football organisation Kick It Out:
“What would have happened if we hadn’t seen this footage or it hadn’t been reported?”
At I guess, I’d say ‘nothing’. Unless any victim would have complained of being abused. But they didn’t. So. Nothing would have happened.
“We need to give people the confidence to challenge discriminatory and abusive behaviour, and this can only be reinforced by action being taken by police and within football by clubs and authorities. ‘Anti-Semitism must be tackled with the same vigour as all other forms of discrimination.’”
Do we allow for context? Do we allow for the West Ham fans to argue that they were insulting Jews and not blacks or browns because Spurs are supported by the Yid Army? If they really hated Jews and not just Spurs fan Jews, would these West Ham fans support a club owned by David Gold, whose father was an East End Jew? Would they not discriminate against them?
Can it be that the elite are wrong and words do not always equate to deeds? You can think evil and not carry out evil deeds?
Of course, the song is insulting. Of course it is racist. And it’s vile. It’s meant to be. Just as chants about Victoria Beckham’s sexual preferences, the referee’s onanism, anti-gayly serenading Brighton fans with the chants “Stand up, cos you can’t sit down”, “10 German bombers” and that tune about the Munich air disaster are meant to be. They are designed to hurt.
And this song, sung by Spurs fans at Sol Campbell who moved to local rivals Arsenal, pretty much ticked every box of bigotry:
Sol, Sol, wherever you may be,
You’re on the verge of lunacy,
And we don’t give a fuck if you’re hanging from a tree,
You’re a Judas c*nt with HIV.
Did you ever hear the ditty ‘Spurs are on their way to Auschwitz’?
It’s vile. It’s ugly. But it should be legal. Because when you start banning what people can say, you also ban the ability to debate ideas publicly, like adults should do. You ban words and you end the opportunity to hold them up to scrutiny and mockery. If you ban words you let the bansturbators in – and once they stat they can’t stop.
The aim is not to say no evil – it is to think no evil. In the language of the age, you are downloading the songs onto your mind. The Chelsea fans on the carriage who did not sing a celebration of their racism have been condemned for just being there. For looking. For downloading wtong things. Their crime was having racism on their mind. Maybe.
On one football board, a Spurs fan asks for fans to stop referring to West Ham supporters as “pikeys”. After a brief debate about gypsies, travellers and race, one fan sums things up neatly, advising:
Just stick to calling people cu*ts. It’s the safest option.
Or maybe not (NSFW):
Did you laugh at that?
Were you offended?
Did you feel like calling the police?
As Lord Ouseley said:
“What can seem like harmless comments can be deemed offensive by others and lead to unwittingly reinforcing negative stereotyping, including racist ones. We will work with all our partners to ensure that education on what is and isn’t unacceptable behaviour is ongoing.”
And he wanted the police to stop Spurs fans calling themselves Yids. He knew best.
The Association of Chief Police Officers/ Crown Prosecution Service guidance tells us:
As well as tackling violence, disorder and criminal damage we will deal robustly with offences of racist and homophobic and discriminatory chanting and abuse and other types of hate crime. We recognise, as do the overwhelming majority of decent fans, that there is a place for humour in football but where the line between humour and offensive behaviour is crossed then positive action will be taken.
Who decides what is and what is not funny? Lord Ouseley?
When West Ham United fans were told not to chant that Hitler was coming to gas the Spurs fans, they responded by chanting:
“He’s coming for you, you know who is coming for you”.
Of course it is utterly offensive. But it is also witty. But is it funny?
What about the chant directed at Andy Goram, who had been the subejct of a newspaper article suggesting he was possibly suffering from schizophrenia. To the tune of Guantanamera, opposing fans sang:
But when West Ham fans sang that Spurs striker “Harry Kane talks like a mong and plays like one”, BBC pundit Kevin Kilblane complained to the FA. It is a lead sports story:
That’s not a funny song. It’s weak. It’s offensive. It’s witless. But it can’t be crime. That would be madness. Becaue while I think it’s not funny, others without a sense of humour might disagree.
But we won’t get to choose wbhat we say because the elite will tell us what is and what is not funny and the police will enforce their ruling.
I’ll let John Barnes, seen in the lead photo having a banana thrown at him when he played for Liverpool in the 1980s, end this:
“Football can do nothing about getting rid of racism. Society has to [do it], through education and people understanding why they feel the way they do. Prejudice is a problem all over the world. I’m surprised when I see black people in the higher echelons of society. I know the most powerful man in the world is black [Barack Obama] but 400 years of indoctrination into thinking about a group of people as inferior is not going to change overnight. There was the human rights movement in the 1960s and yet 20 years ago we were still being racially abused – and it was accepted.”
Transfer Balls: a look at utter drivel presented as football news in the mainstream media. Today the Express says Liverpool are set to sign Raheem Sterling on a new contract, Arsenal are still going to bid for Paul Pogba, Incardi is off to Chelsea and there is some stuff about Manchester United.
David Wright reports:
Raheem Sterling admits he’s close to putting pen to paper on a new deal at Liverpool, worth a reported £100,000-a-week.
The England star, who is being monitored by Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain, is yet to commit his future to the Reds despite months of talks between the club and his representatives.
Fans of Chelsea and Spurs are racist. All of them. Every single one of them is a suspected racist. The Express, Mirror and Sun all lead with the news that Spurs and Chelsea fans are suspects in race crimes. Lord Herman Ouseley, the man the Sun labels the “Race chief” calls for police to “swamp” Wembley when Chelsea and Spurs contest this Sunday’s Capitol One Cup Final.
This week we saw a video of a few West Ham fans giving full throat to their foreskins on the way to play Spurs, a club gamely supported by their vocal and self-styled Yid Army. The Mail calls them “alleged” West Ham fans in language that makes us wonder if being a football fan is now a crime.
Paul Pogba Watch: a look at the lazy media obsession with finding the ‘new’ versions of existing top footballers. Today we learn of the new Paul Pogba, which is very off when you consider that the real Paul Pogba – the old one – is 21 years old.
Today the Daily Mirror brigns news of Baubacar Djalo. He’s 18. He plays for Sporting Lisbon’s Under-19 side. Not good enough for the Sporting first team, Bubacar is, nonetheless, good enough for Spurs.
And he is… the “NEW PAUL POGBA”.
Previously in the Mirror (Jan 6 2015), we met another New Pogba:
“We act on behalf of Mr Barklie identified as one of the people sought by authorities investigating an incident on the Paris Metro on 16/2/15 . We contacted London Metropolitan Police today to advise that our client is happy to assist with inquiries. Pending formal engagement with police, our client is anxious to put on record his total abhorrence for racism and any activity associated with it.
”As someone who has spent years working with disadvantaged communities in Africa and India he can point to a cv in human rights work which undermines any suggestion he is racist.
”Today a senior official in the World Human Rights Forum confirmed their support for him.
”Mr Barklie is a Chelsea season ticket holder and has travelled to matches for over 20 years now without incident
”He travelled alone to the Paris St Germain match and has no knowledge whatsoever of the identities of the other people depicted in recent YouTube video releases. He wants to stress that he was not and never has been part of any group or faction of Chelsea supporters.
”He did not participate in racist chanting and singing and condemns any behaviour supporting that.
”He accepts he was involved in an incident when a person now known to him as Souleymane S was unable to enter a part of the train.
”He has an account to give to police which will explain the context and circumstances as they prevailed at that particular time.
”In the meantime pending that, he wants to put on record his sincerest apologies for the trauma and stress suffered by Mr Souleymane.
”He readily acknowledges that any judgement on the integrity of his apology will be kept in abeyance pending the outworkings of the investigation.
”Given the extremely sensitive nature of the issues engaged we urge upon all media outlets to exercise as much restraint as possible when commenting on the case.
”We accept on behalf of our client that public interest demands nothing but total indignation and condemnation from all media reporting but such reporting ought not to persist at the expense of undermining Mr Barklie’s right to a fair trial
”Tonight London Met confirmed with us that arrangements were in hand to take the investigation to the next stage.”
Joe Mourinho, Chelsea’s egotistical, talented and erudite manager, feels his side are the victims of a conspiracy to defraud them of the Premier League title. He says that to compound poor decisions that go against them, Chelsea don’t get a fair press.
Sat on the Sky Sports sofas, Mourinho pointed the finger at Sky (prop. R Murdoch). He asked them why if a red card-worthy foul by Chelsea’s Diego Costa was a “crime”, a bad foul on a Chelsea player by Burnley striker Ashley Barnes was brushed over?
And as if to prove the point that the Press is unfair to Chelsea, the Sun (prop. R Murdoch) reports on Mourinho ‘s reasoned remarks thus:
A “33 minute rant”. No. It wasn’t. It was bit whinny, a tad self-indulgent, a little monocular and self-serving (what of Chelsea defender Gary Cahill’s dive in the box against Hull city, or Cesc Fabregas’ handball in the box against Arsenal – both unpunished?), but it was not a rant.
And it was entertaining. It would have been much more saw had Mourinho not been sat by the face of corporate telly, Ben Shepherd, a man whose presenting skills appear to have been honed at a call centre briefing for new staff, and the witless and shouty Chris Kamara, a figure possessed by the ability to retell what viwers have just seen in the manner of an amazed puppy seeing a shoe for the first time.
We’d have preferred to see Mourinho sat before Manuel Pelligrini or another of his rivals and a Premier League referee. A good journalist to wrangle them would be an added bonus. It would look a lot like this:
Transfer Balls: A look at dire football reporting in the mainstream media. And as we have before many times, we spot Ben Jefferson’s work in the Daily Express. Ben says Manchester United are keen to buy Arturo Vidal:
News is that Manchester Untied are to invest a “bargain” £23m in Arturo Vidal.
Jefferson adds that some reports claimed Vidal was worth more:
United were heavily linked with a move for Vidal last summer, with some reports suggesting that the Red Devils were ready to pay £40m to land the Chilean star.
Some reports? Like this one in the Daily Express:
But because that move never did happen, Ben Jefferson told us that it would happen in January:
Transfer Balls: a look at fiction and clickbait dross presented as football fact in the mainstream press. Today the Daily Express has news that Manchester Untied are to spand £245m on Real Madrid players Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ben Jefferson has “all the latest news and transfer stories coming out of Old Trafford…”
What he doesn’t tell you is that new emerging from Old Trafford comes via an SEO man with a dog walking by the ground and the, er, Daily Express
Manchester United will look to use their share of the Premier League TV rights deal to go to war with Real Madrid.
United’s share of the £5bn broadcasting windfall will enable them to keep David De Gea out of the clutches of the Spanish giants. But the Red Devilscould also look to plunder the Bernabeu outfit to bring Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo back to the Premier League with their new-found riches.
Bale and Roanldo to Manchester United! And Angel Di Maria is, says Jefferson, heading out of the club.
And as well as buying the world’s two most expensive footballers, United will spend loads more cash:
Kevin Strootman, Paul Pogba, Ilkay Gundogan and Koke are all expected to come under the microscope from scouts in the coming months as United look to rectify the problem.
But news is that Pogba will not be going to Manchester United. We read that in the Daily Express:
And is the Express sure Ronaldo is heading to United for over £100m and that Di Maria is leaving? It’s just the Express told us he was heading there for £60m and Di Maria was the bait:
But Ben Jefferson told us that Ronaldo would only return to United if the Red Devils could cough up…£300m (plus the £300,00 a week wages the Express mentioned):
And as for Ilkay Gundogan, well we read that he wants to play for Barcelona. We read it in the Express:
And United don’t want Strootman, says the Daily Express:
And Koke is doing nowhere, says the Daily Express:
So. The Daily Express says Manchester United are not buying Koke, Strootman, Pogba or Gundogan. And they are not buying Ronaldo and Bale for £245m.
Oh, and David de Gea is leaiving, say the -yep – Daily Express:
TRANSFER Balls: a look at newspaper repoting on footballers. And what utter rot it is. Today the Daily Express says that Chelsea have received a “boost” in their pursuit of Paul Pogba, Manchester United’s “Ronaldo REVELATION” and Arsenal’s “Immobile blow”.
Charles Perrin has three scoops in one day! Hold that Pulitzer Prize!
Dealing with each sensation in turn:
SCOOP! The Chelsea Pogba “boost” is that – and this is fantastic – that dangerously thick sod Nicholas Anelka “admitted he would like to see him join Chelsea”.
Is Anelka setting the transfer policy at Chelsea? Does he know Roman Ambramovich is a Jew? Has the world gone mad?
SCOOP! “Manchester United turned down the chance to re-sign Cristiano Ronaldo last month.”
Is that because United were reluctant to spend £200m or some other nutzoid sum to make Real Madrid sell the player who isn’t for sale and is happy at Champions’ League favourite Real?
“…reports in Spain suggest when Louis van Gaal was offered the chance to sign Ronaldo, he said ‘no’ to a potential deal.”
That report notes that United would have to pay a world record fee for Ronaldo, who is an ageing hero and gold mine; and the Madrilenos want to buy Spanish David de Gea.
SCOOP! “Arsenal and Liverpool have been dealt a blow in their pursuit of Ciro Immobil”
Number of words from anyone at Arsenal and Liveprool: nil.
“I feel I’m at the right level to play with Borussia Dortmund.”
Number of times Imobile mentions Arsenal or Liveprool in his interview in Italy: nil.
No longer front page news – the story is on the Sun‘s Page 25, – the saga of footballer and convicted rapist Ched Evans churns on.
The paper says Evans has been ofered the chance to play for Ashbrooke Belford House FC, of The Wearside League.
Asa Dobbing, speaks for the side:
“Everybody deserves a second chance and if he wants to get back into football he can come and play for me. I have had an injury crisis with centre forwards and I’ve followed this case closely. I’ve spoken to fans and the majority are behind it.”
The Sun reports that former Liverpool and Aston Villa striker Stan Collymore will not be offering his pundity to BT Sport’s Glasgow Rangers match. He doesn’t like the songs the fans sing. At which point any self-respecting Rangers fan will sing them louder. And fans of other clubs – and that includes Glasgow Celtic – should support them.
Collymore says he was “taken off the show”. The Sun says BT says it was Collymore’s choice:
The outspoken commentator had demanded Rangers are pulled off the television if their fans continue to sing sectarian songs. After announcing the news on the internet, Collymore became locked in a fiery online exchange with some sports fans, many of whom brought up his violent past and domestic violence.
It had been triggered after Collymore backed a petition which said: “Boycott sponsors Sectarian chanting is illegal. Demeaning.”
It’s illegal to because Scotland has criminalised words. The Scottish government made a link between words and deeds. It made them the same thing.
As ever, football is the testing ground for new forms of crowd control. Sit down. Shut up. Don’t drink. Don’t smoke. Do as you’re told. Be silent for the full minute. Wait behind that line in the street until the police tell you to go. Take this train not that one. Don’t go to the town centre. Be tolerant. Do what the people on top tell you to. They know best. They know you as the working-class scum you are, race-rioters-in-wating and in need of a moral re-education.
Do civil liberties group gets angy at football fans being kettled and searched, their movements impeded on a sus? Do they decry bans on song that link to a culture? No. Because football fans are the lowest of the low.
Love the game. Hate the people who watch it.
And what the State first tests on these scummy knuckle-draggers it will be using on you, the morally right, next.
And the terrifying thing is that a journalist, which Stan Collymore is, is championing the laws that curtail free speech.
“We did not agree with the nature of the debate on twitter, and which BT Sport was brought into without prior agreement. BT Sport will raise and discuss the issue within its programming when relevant and in an appropriate manner.”
“Just had a call from @btsportfootball. I’m taken off the show. Absolutely fine. Better to be right than bury my head. Enjoy! I can hold my head high and say i did the right thing to challenge hypocrisy amongst Rangers fans. BT show #RFC games, so inevitable.”
The entire campaign is this. It’s under the assumed name ‘John Smith':
He tweeted: ” As I said a couple of weeks ago, Rangers and Chelsea, aka ‘The Blues Brothers’, made for each other. Quelle surprise.#NF #BNP #C18.”
A petition has since been signed by over 2,500 people calling for the BT Sport football analyst to be ditched.
It says: “Slurring Rangers and Chelsea like this as right-wing extremists is below the belt and unacceptable.”
Collymore added on twitter:
“Rangers fans, keep up the slurs. I’m exercising my British rights of speech within the law. That my Grandfather fought for.”
As are they.
“‘We’re up to our knees in Fenian blood’. Grand hypocrisy and not a ‘small minority’. Tell sponsors and TV. We can all play the petition game. Please sign my petition asking all sponsors and broadcasters to boycott #RFC games as ‘Up to our knees in Fenian Blood’ isn’t acceptable. Rangers fans fiercely support traditional British values of freedom of speech. Until it’s their hypocrisy exposed.”
Celtic’s Green Brigade are not hooligans, Headhunters or ICF. But they are in breech of the Offensive Behaviour Act:
The Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012 was passed by the Scottish Parliament on 14th December 2011 and will be enacted on 1st March 2012. The Act criminalises behaviour which is threatening, hateful or otherwise offensive at a regulated football match including offensive singing or chanting. It also criminalises the communication of threats of serious violence and threats intended to incite religious hatred, whether sent through the post or posted on the internet. The Act will only criminalise behaviour likely to lead to public disorder which expresses or incites hatred, is threatening or is otherwise offensive to a reasonable person.
Offensive singing at the ground is banned. But whose offended? The Act then tells us:
The offence will NOT:
Stop peaceful preaching or proselytising. Restrict freedom of speechincluding the right to criticise or comment on religion or non-religious beliefs, even in harsh terms.
Criminalise jokes and satire about religion or non-religious belief.
But it does restrict free speech. That is one of thing it does most definitely do.
The Green Brigade are being harassed, as they claim, for singing songs the rule makers don’t like. They are the wrong songs. If you sing any “wrong” song at a Scottish football ground you can be arrested. Given that the aim of songs is to either to a) rouse your team; b) do down the opposition, roughly half of all football songs could cause offence to the listener across the park.
But what if your club is rooted in politics?What if the songs are part of your identity, the link between the club and it’s supporters and area?
What if you’re not singing about the SNP and Flower of Scotland but are a Rangers of Celtic fan singing ‘The Boys of the Old Brigade’ or ‘Rule Britannia’? Whatb if you’re a Spurs fan rejoicing in being part of the “Yid Army”?
What if the history of the club is entwined with the fight against anti-Semitism or the Irish fight against British rule and militarism in Ireland? As Kevin Rooney notes:
The sod of turf that sits in the centre circle of Celtic Park was planted by Michael Davitt, himself a famous Irish Republican activist who fought against British rule in Ireland.
Celtic fans have been castigated for singing Republican songs in commemoration of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands – a man the fans consider to be a freedom fighter yet who is labelled a terrorist by the Scottish authorities. The banners aboves run into a message:
“The terrorist or the dreamer; the savage or the brave? Depends whose vote you’re trying to catch, or whose face you’re trying to save”
In response of orders for them to take it down, the Green Brigade said:
“Ultimately, due to the subjective nature of what anyone may deem offensive, it is both dangerous and absurd to create a law based upon offensiveness.”
Brilliant. And witty. You can stick your commitment to tolerance if it means banning free speech. Celtic’s fans will sing what they want to. And anyone who values free speech should join in.
For more than 80 years the poppy and football were separate. Now, when the football authorities decide to mix politics with football, those fans who object are vilified and banned. Anyone who cares about civil liberties and freedom of speech should be extremely alarmed by the attack on both by those running football in Scotland.
Real sectarianism is largely a thing of the past. Yet, the elite like to keep it alive. It serves a purpose. It means the elite can connect to the populace around a common ill.
Banning the bad words and songs will, they say, make peopls more civil and moral. But such draconian rules represent the very opposite. They represent intolerance. And to anyone who values free speech these laws also represent not the chance to nark on a fan or call for a ban; they represent an assault on freedom. And where the football fans goes first, the rest of society follows.
As he rode the Paris Metro for Chelsea FC’s Champions’ League match, Josh Parsons, 21, was just one of the fans on a night out. Then it happened. A black man named Souleymane S tried to board the train. A few Chelsea fans blocked his path. A few Chelsea fans sang “We’re racist and that’s the way we like it.” This small moment was captured on camera. The mainstream media picked up the video. And very quickly the shaven-headed and white the fans quickly became the eptiome of racism.
David Cameron said it was “extremely disturbing and very worrying”. In his mind, a nasty moment between a handful of people demanded language more apt for an ISIS snuff movie. Feelings were hurt. Idiots had been caught behaving sadly. But the elite in Westminster and what used to be Fleet Street wanted more. They held the video up as being a sign of much greater ills. And once again football – the great meriticratic melting pot watched by scum fans – was in the dock.
The great moralisers could now bind the nation behind a common enemy. The Chelsea boot boys had heaped shame upon us all. Lessons must be learned. Hang the fact that no-one was physically hurt, that real racism pervades society not from the bottom up, but from the top down: count the number of black faces editing national newspapers; sat on the front benches in Parliament; captaining industry; running the police; owning football clubs or race horses; riding race horses; owning land; dining with the Dons at Oxford; and, well, you name it.
The elite like their racists white, preferably working class and always obvious.
David Cameron should not lamabaste the Chelsea goons – he should write them thank you letters.
And in the centre of this State-led mob justice is Josh Parsons. He could not have realised that his choice to ride that carriage would have an impact on his life. But it soon did.
The Sun led with a picture of Parsons. He wasn’t pictured chanting, shoving or doing anything other than looking. Alongside the photo of him on the Metro, the Sun thought it wise to feature a thumbnail of Parsons open-mouthed – as if chanting – and apparently shirtless. What a hooligan, eh. But Josh Parsons wasn’t undresed or behaving like that on the Paris Metro.
But never mind the facts. The Sun had its target.
And we can have Parsons.
In the race to condemn even the most basic of facts is confused
Parsons, we are told, lives in Dorking, Surrey. (The Times shows us photo of his home.) He is an ex-public schoolboy. On Page 5, the Sun says that the “VILE CHELSEA RACE YOBS” are the subject of an “international hunt”, you know like the White Widow or jihadis are.
And this is because, in the words of the man who filmed the fracas, Chelsea fans were “getting quite agressive”. Mitchell McCoy, who was on the carriage, says the man barred from boarding by the bouncers-on-tour was wearing a PSG scarf, the colours of the club Chelsea were playing. The chant, of course, suggests more sinister motives at play.
We then get more on Parsons. He is a “City high-flyer”. He studied at “30,000-a-year” Millfield school. He works for the Business and Commercial Club in Mayfair. And in case you still can’t find him, the Sun says that Mayfair is in Central London.
Grab your torches! Saddle up! Let’s roll!
And it gets worse.
One day on and the Daily Star leads with Josh Parsons. Three Chelsea fans have been suspended from watching football at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea’s ground. Parsons isn’t one of them.
And then it gets really odd. The Star tells readers:
“Meanwhile, seson ticket holder Josh Parsons, 21, one of those filmed, is a UKIP supporter who enjoyed a pint with Nigel Farage”.
The Star likes UKIP and its leader, or “UKIP NIGE”, as they dub him. (The Star once supported the EDL.)
Inside the paper, we hear from Parsons’ boss, Miranda Khadr:
“He is very scared and he called me to say he is not coming in today.”
It’s worth pausing to note that Josh Parsons has commited no crime. In a hideous twisting of facts and prejudices, the story of a man barred from riding the Paris Metro has become the story of a man too scared to leave his house. Who needs a Twitter mob when you have the Press to monster you?
And he is being monstered.
The Guardian makes a declaration in the manner of a lawyer revealing his most damning piece of evidence to the jury:
Chelsea fan in Paris Métro video posed in picture with Nigel Farage
To the righteous, that’s enough to bury him.
A mere nine paragraphs into its diatribe, the Guardian thinks it fair to note:
Wearing a black hooded jacket, Parsons can be seen in the Paris video after those around him appear to have chanted: “We’re racist, we’re racist and that’s the way we like it.” It is unclear from the video whether Parsons was among those chanting or remonstrating with a black commuter, who had been earlier pushed from a carriage.
The Times leads with that picture of Josh Parsons and Farage. The word “racism” hangs like dripping poison beneath the photo.
This time, Farage is no “Nige”. He’s the face of Channel 4’s dire docudrama UKIP: The First 100 Days, the show that imagined what the country would be like if UKIP won the Election. For those of you who missed it, the upshot is that life would be awful. It would like living in a carriage with Chelsea fans.
And with that Parsons is no longer a football fan on the train, he’s a chimera of UKIP’s middle-class, petit-bourgeois supporters and knuckle-dragging white racists. He’s the embodiment of everything we are told to fear and despise. He ticks every box.
Football fan: Yes.
UKIP supporter: Yes.
Been seen with a St George flag: Yes.
Josh Parsons has become something less than human, a vulgar symbol of everrything the bien pensant love to hate.
The Times picks up its sledgehammer to crack the bad egg. With no proof Parsons has broken a law, the Times investigates his mind. It says Parsons was “banned from playing in a football match when he attended the £30,00-a-year Millfield School in Somerset for after sending an allegedly racist tweet about a black referee.”
Did he? It doesn’t matter.
Like anyone sane, we realise that if the sins of the teenage berk are to used to explain the man, well, we could all be shafted.
We’re told that Parsons “smashed plates” when Chelsea lost a match. He and his brother – get this – Beno (!) “left you with no illusions looking at their social meda that they were a) Chelsea fans and b) UKIP supporters.”
Last time we looked neither hobby was illegal.
But it might as well be. Because alongside a picture of Parsons and news that he is being “probed” by his employers, we hear Souleymane (who says he was on his way home) say “LOCK ‘EM UP.”
We also note that the victim says, “No other passengers defended me, but what could anyone do? When the train left I waited for the next train.”
What could Parsons have done?
You might be now be wondering what Josh Parsons did to becomes public enemy Number 1 and live in fear?
And the simple asnwer is nothing. The more complex answer is that he offended the knowing and right-thinking, who look around for offence as a way of explaining themselves, seeking a salve to their own vanities and a mirror to show that how they live and the decisions they make are the right ones.
If you want to spot real, censorious, bigoted scumbags. There you go.
Transfer Balls – Anorak’s look at bilge being presented as football fact in the mainstream media. The Mirror has beeb rpeorting on Schalke and Germany defender Benedikt Howedes, 26. A target for Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea, the Mirror says his “goal” is to play in England.
The Mirror says he “admits it”, as if it were a secret or a crime:
But is it his goal?
He told German’s BILD:
“If I am to leave Schalke one day, I do not want to move clubs within Bundesliga. The club is too close to my heart to do so. I owe Schalke a lot, I have had a great experience during my time here. I really like being at Schalke.”