Another tsunami of self-righteous indignation crashed upon our virtual shores this morning in the aftermath of the weekend’s FA Cup ties. This time, the surge was triggered by the ‘offshore quakes’ at Loftus Road and Anfield, by cancelled handshakes and misconstrued boos. It triggered such a fresh surge of pomposity that it’s hardly surprising our rudders have been a little out of kilter in the aftermath.
When there are bullets in the mail and boos and vitriol in the stands, our media’s hardly going to form an orderly queue to be balanced and considered about it all, are they? So yet again we were treated to pompous tweeted put downs from broadsheet journalists, half-assed mind reading by the likes of Mark Lawrenson (“quite a few Lancashire villages must be missing their idiots this afternoon”), and of course, from all and sundry, allegations of mass inchoate blame. The Chelsea fans are all mindless thugs. The Liverpool and Manchester United fans likewise.
Outrage sells. Why would we expect anything else?
The same morning, we saw Gary Neville (talking about the Balotelli ‘stamp’ incident) admit the pressure he and others are put under at SKY TV to ‘find the story’ when commenting on a match – and while he rightly points out that unreasonable scrutiny goes hand in hand with playing for a big club, again it ought to free us of any illusions that our media are going to act in a reasonable and considered way – for the greater good. It’s just not something they’ve any incentive to do.
The most pathetic thing about it all, however, hit me square in the face this morning. In amongst all the lectures, the condemnations, and the incessant criticism, not once have any of these people stopped and promoted the cause – our cause. And it is ‘our cause’. If we’re right-minded people, we abhor inequality and disrespect in all its forms – in society generally, not just in football.
So where are the articles telling us how to help promote the various campaigns? Where were we supposed to sign? Can we help with donations? Can we follow them on Twitter or Facebook? Are we just going to be told we’re mindless animals time and again, or are we at some stage going to be helped to get involved with the cause?
The uncomfortable truth is it’s far too seldom about promoting the cause and getting people involved. And even less comfortable, that not restricted to the media.
In an age where campaigning best practice is to engage with people online and actively work with the groups whose behaviours and opinions you want to influence, @KickItOut boasts a grand total of 7,877 followers on Twitter and hasn’t posted a status update on its Facebook page since April 2010. I posted a question on their ‘wall’ asking how we can get involved, and have they considered actively engaging with fans online through forums and so forth. The post has, it seems, been deleted. It kind of begs the question – is it all about Gala Dinners and reacting to incidents with critical disdain? Why aren’t we hearing more about the good work they’re doing? Why aren’t we being moved to do more to help?
In the minutes after tweeting a few of these points this morning, the founder of Redandwhitekop tweeted that having searched their email archives, not once had any of these groups been in contact to try and promote their work. Is that good enough? I may be wrong here, and believe me, I’ll be only too happy to be contradicted with stories of the good practical work that’s being done on our behalf. I’d suspect a lot of good work’s being done at grass roots level, or I’d certainly hope it is, but if so, where’s the focus on that? Why aren’t we hearing about it?
I’m in no place to criticise here by the way – it only really dawned on me this morning that while I was arguing with people about the rights and wrongs of this and that, I should probably be setting all that to one side and getting involved in promoting the actual cause. In helping make sure that we won’t tolerate prejudice in our everyday lives, let alone in our football grounds, be it sectarian, homophobic, racial, religious or whatever other form it takes.
I think there are valid questions to be asked of our leaders in these areas, and certainly there’s room for fans no longer to wait for them to take the initiative on the issue. All they seem capable of doing is reacting, and barely ever in a conciliatory, enlightened way.
Is it time to build something for ourselves on this front? To help make sure everyone knows what our expectations are – what we will no longer tolerate?
I think maybe it is.
Some links that are maybe worth a visit. Excuse my ignorance as I’ve no doubt missed a few – please post them in the comments if they’re helpful.
The Kick It Out website
Kick It Out on Twitter
Kick It Out on Facebook
The FARE Network website
FARE Network on Twitter
FARE Network on Facebook
The TUC Equality site
Race Equality Foundation website
This is an excellent blog…
Hysteria is easy to do, and you are correct about the amount high dudgeon of the politically correct.
Check your links, Rob.
Aside from that, I loudly applaud your effort to reach out to fans, and get them to support these causes.
I’m just not sure whether our fans can even contemplate lending their weight to movements who don’t seem to represent them in any way, shape or form.
I think many LFC fans feel tainted by the Suarez affair, and genuinely hurt, such that the fallout from the FA’s (and the amoral press’) demolition job on Luis Suarez and the club who sought to protect him has left them emotionally bankrupt. They are barely capable of showing the empathy they truly feel because it seems like over the last 25 years or so Liverpool Football Club has reeled from one disaster to another, all the time taking chunks out of essentially good-hearted, good-natured, proud, passionate people.
The way I feel at the moment is a mixture of confused feelings including indignation, guilt, anger, bewilderment, pride, sadness, and fear.
I see this club teetering on a knife edge, it’s reputation in tatters, and the haters of the club lining up in ever-increasing numbers looking to ruin the integrity of the ONE club in English football that was supposed to represent everything that was good about the game. This reputation is in NO small part thanks to the fans, the people whose pride has now been dealt a near fatal body blow and has left them reeling.
I have no doubt that many will answer your impassioned call (such is their nature to fight the good fight), but I wonder if the loyal fans of LFC have begun to say enough is enough, and the line has now been drawn in the sand. From now on it’s THEM and US, but not in the banter-like way King Kenny described yesterday, but in the siege-like, no-going-back-now sense.
Have The Press, The FA, and the haters succeeded in driving a wedge between the football-loving neutrals who always had a small place in their hearts for LFC and our wonderful club? More crucially, is the wounded pride and misinterpreted behaviour of Liverpool fans going to exacerbate this unfortunate situation?
I hate to think what will happen to Suarez at Old Trafford in two weeks, and whether that evening is going bang the nail in the coffin where our fans are concerned, leading to a final driving in of the wedge from the press and a kind of self-imposed excommunication from the elite footballing fraternity leaving LFC out in the cold. Like a stubborn teenager reacting to a perceived overly harsh and unjust punishment our fans will begin to withdraw themselves from the causes fighting for good over evil, and just look after number one.
Luis Suarez has big shoulders…just don’t expect any negative press reporting on the vitriol and animosity aimed at a player of mixed race…because there won’t be any
Great article Roy. Although I’ve just had a look on the Kick it out facebook page and your post is still there. You have to to change the view from Kick it out to Everyone.
Dave, thanks for pointing that out. I’ll try and get the article updated accordingly as that’s unfair of me in that case. Just shows my lack of Facebook-related skill more than anything else.
Andrew – thanks also. (Are the links not working for you by the way?)
You touch on the very point for me, by the way. If we can’t support the causes as represented by the existing bodies, we can at least take up the mantle and help push things forward on our own. I think it’s true that many feel the way you do, but what I’m saying is that, when you’re faced with those feelings, the best way to address them is for us all to push on ourselves without reference to existing campaign banners. They say the Respect Campaign is beyond repair, for example, but it’s the idea behind it that’s relevant, not any single campaign or group of campaigners.
If it is indeed an irrepairable US v THEM situation, then at least both sides can push on to make sure they’re trying to do things the right way. I don’t believe it’s beyond repair though. A good old fashioned siege mentality is nothing intrinsically wrong, nor is it something a club can’t emerge from once the ramparts are fortified enough, but even against that backdrop, we can demonstrate to others that we’re not the kind of people they want to tag us as.
It’s the same with all fans’ groups. I know Rangers fans who are lovely, open-minded people, but they’re tagged as hooligans based on what others did in Manchester and in Spain, for example. I know England fans who travel away to every game, and have happily shared flats with them in the knowledge that they’re good lads who care about me and my family despite my being a Scotsman. We all get tarred with one big brush – that’s the nature of things – but if the typecasting is wrong, we can at least quietly work to change that perception. Don’t get me wrong – not because we should care too much what ‘others’ think of us collectively – just for the sake of our own enjoyment and connection with the whole thing, and to do what we believe is the right thing.
I think most of us already do that anyway – we stand up for what we believe in, and we believe in the right things, but regardless, it’s about our integrity. We’ve always prided ourselves in our capacity to quietly do the right things behind closed doors.
“It kind of begs the question – is it all about Gala Dinners and reacting to incidents with critical disdain?”
It is certainly more about these than it is lobbying for and setting the agenda for a forthcoming parliamentary inquiry, on which the media and the spokespeople are as silent as they are about the complete absence of British Asian representation in the sport.
The Hillsborough Disaster was allowed to happen because football fans are perceived as scum.The Hillsborough Families are denied justice because they must be scum by association. These are the things we should be campaigning and fighting about
Hi Drake – I’d certainly agree on that front – I’d hope continuing in that vein and also quietly doing a little on equality issues can continue hand in hand is all. People are already starting quietly behind the scenes, and there’s no harm in it at all. Hope I’m explaining myself to some extent.
If manchester utd fans were chanting racial abuse on Saturday the police would have been pulling them out of the seats by their hair. Because they were defaming the dead no one was interested. One law for one section of society and one law for another. I am not particularly interested in the hurt feelings of Patrick Evra. Racism is not the biggest evil in football there are many worse,like corruption and incompetence at the highest level but it’s the fave bandwagon of the muesli in the beard gang
Alright mate, I’m not sure how anything said here contradicts what you’re saying. We should be angry at all of those things, that’s kind of the point I’m making.
perhaps unsurprisingly the kick it out facebook page is down.
its literally incredible how inept key institution are with social media.
boss piece big man.
Excellent. The sheer hypocracy of some of the rent a gob, rent a quote mouthpieces I’ve read and heared over the last month is astounding. yet none of them have actively tried to engage with fans…… they’re all too busy rearanging their own soapbox, whilst jockying for position.
If I was a cynical man, I might well believe that they don’t actually want to solve the problem of racism in the sport, because then they’d have no platform to shout at the masses.
I fucked up the link to Kick It Out facebook page above Hass. We’re in the process of fixing it – silly ass eh? It’s http://www.facebook.com/pages/Kick-It-Out#!/pages/Kick-It-Out/72710380586?sk=wall&filter=1
Still no answer to my post though, nor am I expecting one.
The link’s been updated in the article now – and the only response to Roy’s comment is a follow-up one from Roy.
And of course, no reply to the same question posed on Twitter.
Have asked the question again on Twitter and Facebook. I’d genuinely like to see what people can do to extend their reach, and understand what it is they actually plan to do.