Thursday, 16 February 2012

How far can we push our loyalty in front of our morals?

Written By Brad Smith

With the recent Suarez/Evra and Terry/Ferdinand race scandals, how far are we willing to go to keep supporting our club and ignoring crimes and acts that are committed, just because said player is wearing our clubs colours.

A common phrase used by fans is 'It doesnt matter what they do off the pitch, as long as they do their thing on it'. This can be understandable, to a point, but how much can we put up with as fans, before our moral compasses get tossed to the wayside.

You only have to go back to when Wayne Rooney swore at English fans at the camera, and the frenzy that surrounded that, back page splashes, and fans vowing to never support him again. Also, you have the Cristiano Ronaldo 'winker' story, where he inexplicably winked after getting his club team-mate sent off in the World Cup. But we look at these, and they are simply stupid acts, not crimes, yet both players had been persecuted by fans, on and off the pitch.

What level do these acts weigh up again real crimes, countless high profile names have been involved in drink-driving incidents, Jermaine Pennant had to wear an electronic tag whilst playing for former club Birmingham, and although a much too common incident at present, you only have to look back to 2004 to find Lee Hughes, who had been suspected of drinking, crashed his care into another and killed a father of two children.

After serving his sentence, he is back playing for Notts County, but week in, week out, will suffer a barrage of abuse from opposition fans, and undoubtedly, County fans will cheer a goal.

There are also high profile players such as Vinnie Jones, Eric Cantona, Joey Barton, Marlon King, and Duncan Ferguson, who have all been prosecuted for assault, with many fans simply relishing the chance of having a 'hard-man' in their team.

So it is right to abuse players with criminal convictions, chant at them, but then celebrate and sing their praises if they join your club? Had said player struck a family member around the head with a bottle the previous week, any sane man would have trouble sitting through a game where people were celebrating and mocking the conviction of the player.

With the recent racism scandals, just as the FA are pushing home their Kick It Out campaign, we have supporters booing Rio Ferdinand, just because his brother has accused John Terry of racism, which is currently being investigated. Should he be found guilty, aren't these fans theoretically supporting racism?

From a personal point of view, I do think that once people have served the sentence applicable to the crime, they should be allowed back into the game if clubs feel fit to offer it to them, although hypocrisy from fans with their songs directed at such players is wrong, although this will not change, as supporters loyalty towards their team, often leads them to do and say things that although out of their usual personality, they believe will benefit their side in some way or another.


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