Are supporters well within their rights?

Harry Redknapp has this week suggested that the level of abuse players are now receiving in the game is vicious and has begun to step over the line. Players like Emmanuel Adebayor are the constant subject of vile chants and abuse from ‘fans’ and it appears that although supporters should be entitled to express themselves, many are simply going too far.

Hurling abuse in football has long been considered acceptable as a form of passion. There has always been pretty shocking stuff chanted at football grounds, but of late the issue has come into the spotlight, with constant abuse and heckling of players in the most disgusting fashion. Only last week the youtube video of the ‘fans’ teaching their four-year old to sing the crudest song about the Munich air crash emerged, highlighting the appalling behaviour that has become second nature to a lot of football ‘fans’. Of course not everybody goes about acting like this, and it is probably just a minority that are acting so atrociously, but it needs to be stopped, and clubs and the powers that be need to do more to cut stuff like this out of the game. Football is a beautiful game, but elements like this take the shine off and show its ugly side.

I’m not suggesting that fans shouldn’t be allowed to express themselves, booing an opposition team or player on the field is fair enough, it is part of the theatrical nature of the game, but the constant taunting and negative chanting is embarrassing for football, as well as clubs, and the areas the fans represent.

The constant ferocious stick that some players receive from supporters is simply too much. The level of abuse shown is simply pure hatred and footballers, as human beings, shouldn’t have to take some of the disgusting abuse hurled their way. How can you insult someone that you don’t even know?

It is difficult for players not to react to abuse, but it is a long established part of the game so they must try to ignore it. A player must be sensible in the situation and the worst thing they can do is react and incite it. We have seen players in the past, like Emmanuel Adebayor and Gary Neville, running the length of the pitch to celebrate in front of the opposition fans after receiving abuse. Sure they had been getting horrendous stick all afternoon, but they have a role to play in the game and should have reacted with sensitivity, instead of further inciting the fans.

It has now become common for supporters not just to vent fury at the opposition, but also their own side. Alex McLeish and Arsene Wenger have taken the full brunt of fans criticism so far this season, with boos often ringing out around their respective stadiums. Having spent their hard earned money to watch the game, fans are perfectly entitled to express themselves and perhaps it is the only way they can get their voices heard, although I don’t see how it can be anything other than self-destructive.

Football is passionate, and displays of emotion are a vital part of the game we all love, but some of the abuse these days has stepped over the mark and the game doesn’t need to be ruined by this kind of behaviour. Booing is fine, but the kind of personal insults we often hear nowadays are too much.

It can be difficult for players not to react when they are getting outrageous stick, human nature will scream at them to give a bit back to the supporters who are taunting them, but common sense must prevail, and they must continue to go about their game professionally and try and shut the fans up with their actions on the field. Supporters are perfectly entitled to vent their opinion and their frustrations, but it needs to be within reason. Some of the abuse currently hurled at players is disgusting and there is simply no place for it in the game.
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Are supporters right to vent their fury? Let me know your thoughts by commenting below or following me on Twitter @LaurenRutter for more comment and debate.
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