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.