return of fans football

HOW THE NEGATIVE ELEMENTS OF THE GAME FOUND THEIR WAY BACK INTO THE STADIUMS WITH THE RETURNING FANS?

The 2021/2022 season is up and running. This season, like any other season, is an exciting one. But this season would be extra special as the stadiums around the world open their gates again to fans.

The pandemic meant that the past season and a half had to be played behind closed doors. It led to some ghost games and the players felt its effect without its 12th man. With fans returning, the game can experience both highs and lows this season.

 

 

The gradual decrease in the severity of the pandemic meant only one thing. As more and more people got vaccinated, world governments were encouraged to let the normalcy return to sports. Euro 2020 served as a pilot program for the return of fans.

As it was a grand success, multiple leagues across Europe allowed capacity crowds into the grounds. The fans, as usual, brought their passion, love and motivation to the ground to revel in its pleasures.

But on the flip side, with the return of the fans, few stigmas also returned. Personal abuse, hooliganism, racist chants which overshadow the game also found their way back in. The abuse that was restricted to online spaces, got into the stadiums now.

 

 

The abandoned match between Nice and Marseille serves as an example of hooliganism. The fans of Manchester City and Leeds United resorted to abuse of players like Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho for missing penalties at the Euros. These acts often remember us that the beautiful game is far from perfect with the fans in the stadium.

 

HOOLIGANISM

Muted celebrations are a thing of the past. With supporters not present in the stadiums, the players often lacked the motivation to celebrate big after scoring. Now that they are back, there are no such fears.

The players celebrate wildly with the fans and fans are do the same. This turns into hooliganism sometimes when the fans go overboard. Pelting bottles and food items often erupt into clashes between the players and the fans.

 

 

This took its worst form on Sunday night as the game between Nice and Marseille was abandoned. Nice hosted Marseille and were leading the game through Kasper Dolberg’s strike. When Marseille talisman headed to the corner flag to take a corner, he was hit by a water bottle hurled by the home fans. The French winger threw it back into the fans and the situation boiled over.

 

Players of both the teams got involved in a scuffle (Image Credits: France24)

 

The fans stormed onto the pitch as the stewards struggled to contain them. It turned into a full-fledged brawl as supporters of both sides started fist fighting. The security staff emerged onto the pitch to salvage the situation but failed to contain it.

Many players were injured in the brawl and the game was halted temporarily. After a long delay, Nice emerged from the tunnel once the situation was contained. Marseille didn’t want to play the remainder of the match as a protest and the game had to be abandoned.

 

 

Marseille faced a similar experience last time at Montpellier and wanted to make a statement now. This is one of the worst ever ways for a football match to end. Fans, supposed to be the 12th man should help their team constructively, but not disruptively.

 

EXTREME CHANTS

were caught in a controversy after their resounding victory against Norwich at the Carrow Road. The travelling Merseyside fans crossed the line in an attempt to have a go at teenager Billy Gilmour. Few segments of the away crowd chanted homophobic slurs towards the Scottish international. Though the game went on smoothly, there were after-effects.

 

 

Both Liverpool Football Club and manager Jurgen Klopp reacted strongly against these chants. After the issue was taken to the notice of the club by Kopouts, Liverpool’s LGBTQ+ fan association, it was addressed properly. The club released a statement on Twitter, strongly condemning those chants and urged the fans to refrain from using them.

Liverpool manager Klopp called out to those fans and said only idiots would do it. “I never understand why you would sing a song if it was against something in a football stadium,” Klopp said in an interview on Liverpool’s official Twitter. He added “ Meaningful stuff gives you goosebumps and a push. The other songs are completely a waste of time and if you think [believe] what you sing, you are an idiot.”

 

 

Derby County also reported a similar incident. The Rams noticed racist chants and immediately reacted to them.

These kinds of personal abuse often show the dark side that fans add to the game. They have a demoralizing effect on the players.

 

RACISM AND BOOS

The age-old stigma of racism also returned to the stadium with returning fans. Football is a game that runs on emotions. It boils over into the supporters in the stadiums at times. The fans in the stadium are reactionary and tend to take extreme measures when things don’t go their way.

The fans often resort to extreme measures like racist chants and gestures. This has been a very prominent issue in the past. These sheepish acts are often directed towards opposition players who play well against their team to rile them up. Racism in stadiums have been encountered in England, Italy and France in the past.

 

 

Recently, players have started taking the knee in support of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. This noble gesture has been met by some wily reactions from few segments of the crowd. In the Premier League fixture between Burnley and Brighton, the home fans resorted to booing. Though the players were cheered, later on, Burnley captain Ben Mee was disappointed with booing.

He said “It was disappointing to hear the booing. There was a lot of applause as well after it, which was good to hear. I don’t know how many times we need to reiterate as players the reasons why we’re continuing to take the knee. It gets to the point where if you’re booing, it doesn’t look good on those individuals that are booing. Disappointed, but there was a lot of positive there as well.”

 

 

Similar scenes were repeated in the Championship clash between Millwall and Fulham. Millwall manager Gary Rowett didn’t condemn the booing and said they need to search for a better method to fight racism instead of taking the knee.

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