The attraction of football is homogenous around the world. Those with a wayward moral compass who attach themselves to football are not. There are a nuanced minority of idiots who maliciously aim to drag football back to its nadir, where such actions were more commonplace. Nostalgia, perhaps? A longing for the days when ‘Green Street’ and ‘Football Factory’ were more than just opportunistic movies in an era of pre-Eastenders Danny Dyer? The reprehensible actions of those particular Chelsea fans in Paris this week was a sad but at the same time sobering sight to behold.
No to racism
Paris, a city of culture and couture, it is somewhat ill-fated then that it should be met with crude and callous. Let us not kid ourselves into thinking campaigns such as ‘No to Racism’ and ‘Kick it out’ do not do their job properly – they are after all credible if not typically inspiring movements, but they can only educate and enlighten. It becomes a more arduous task when faced with active naivety and ignorance. I use the word ‘active’ as these kinds of people choose to be a fragment at a time when multiculturalism for all of its plaudits still remains a sensitive issue. I also use the word ‘active’ because they are well aware of their spiteful behaviour, yet are none the wiser when considering the hurt and embarrassment they’ve caused.
As is usually the case in such debates fraught with these intricacies there will be apologists who argue of repressed social and political tensions, the working-class fan’s form of cathartic release in response to escalating visceral feelings (of which UKIP have made capitalising on an art) clumsily displayed. This would be a grave injustice of reality. The brazen arrogance of this minority of Chelsea fans, pushing a black man off the train and thus proceeding to bask in the ambience of asininity through song (further incriminating themselves) is the most transparent case of regressive animalistic behaviour displayed.
The offenders would do well to remember their billionaire owner and liberator hails from Saratov, Russia, their mercurial, serial-winner of a manager from the river city of Setúbal, Portugal and one of their most iconic players to have ever worn the blue of Chelsea from Abidjan in the Ivory Coast.
Condemnation of such behaviour is important – Chelsea Football Club has been swift in denunciating the abhorrent actions, promising to penalise those who are guilty, as have fellow Chelsea fans, disgusted at such behaviour. The actions of few are not consensus and do not represent Chelsea fans.
Let us not become sanctimonious either, whilst the pious and petty myopic will wrongly attempt to tar all Chelsea supporters with the same brush, pertinent issues of racism in football is not exclusive to west-London, nor indeed the capital as a whole. It is a pervading theme, an ancillary cancer that rears its ugly head sporadically across Europe; one needs to look no further than the stadiums of Italy and Spain or instances between Serbia and Albania to draw such conclusions. This is not to absolve the offending Chelsea fans of course, and as discussed by Henry Winter in the Telegraph it certainly puts pittance to the thought of England being the best equipped to deal with these issues as they would like to think it does, but rather than using the moral high ground as a yardstick, these Chelsea fans should be placed in the same bracket as the other fatuous, uncultivated minorities throughout Europe; relics of a bygone era, well and truly removed from the standards of the 21st century. Football has the ability emancipate, but it must find ways of doing the same to its own demons.