When did personal abuse become an acceptable way of communicating a football fans displeasure at results, manager, owner players, or anyone else for that matter?
Having broadcast sport on the radio for the last 41 years I fully understand a fans right to have an opinion on anything to do with his club. I have not and will not always agree with their opinion but would defend to the hilt their right to have it.
And very often it can lead to quite a heated debate and I love it. It’s brilliant that fans show great love, passion and enthusiasm for their club and are prepared to argue their point but of course that does not automatically make them right but neither does it make me right- it’s just a difference of opinion. Sadly some cannot come to terms with other having a different opinion to themselves.
Be it a manager, player owner or referee they can choose whether or not they like them, rate them, or if they would like to see them gone from their club. However when they step over the line and become personally abusive and even throw things at them then it just isn’t right.
When results are not living up to expectations then atmospheres at grounds can and often does become toxic.
Also on social media platforms twitter and facebook which are fast becoming the biggest problem the game has in my opinion.
I have seen individual players at two of our clubs on the end of abuse from their own supporters.
To be honest every club has a minority of very vocal supporters who get a buzz out of abusing players and managers from behind the safety of a keyboard. It also comes from the terraces as there are supporters who believe their match ticket gives them the right to be abusive. Ironically if a player or manager has a pop back he is deemed “unprofessional” to be honest you couldn’t make it up.
It is not just football that suffers from social media abuse. On Monday the Coventry Blaze Ice Hockey club had to issue this statement
“As an organisation we will not tolerate social media communications which are clearly inappropriate and offensive towards any member of the club or which go beyond the realms of an acceptable nature. Personal insults or comments that show little regard for the well-being of any member of the club are simply not acceptable
It’s often easy to post an opinion on social media channels without a second thought given to any possible consequences or the well-being of the person to whom it may be directed.
We would encourage all supporters to please consider that any post on any platform becomes a public record, whether intended as something light-hearted or not, posts which might appear harmless to you, could be construed as offensive by others, or have a severe impact on the well-being of others.
The Blaze reserve the right to, have, and will, deny entrance to our games to any individual who does not show consideration of the above”
The Sheffield Steelers Head Coach Paul Thompson was forced to walk away from the job because of the personal abuse he was receiving. I have also seen it in Boxing and without doubt it needs policing. I have read some of the keyboard cowards post’s pontificating about “freedom of speech”. That freedom allows you the right to an opinion but does not allow you to abuse others either aggressively, or in any other anti-social ways.
However it is vitally important to make it absolutely clear that it would be wrong to tar all tar all fans with that particular brush as the majority of supporters manage to express their displeasure and even anger without being personally abusive to any individual.
They make social media a joy because they engage in honest discussion and debate and realise that people can have different opinions. However the minority are always the most vocal.
I understand that players and managers have to accept the boos and jeers from the terraces as part and parcel of the job-it simply goes with the territory. One day you are the rooster and the next day you are a feather duster. However accepting personal abuse is definitely NOT part of the job.
Those fans who are abusive should remember that managers and players are human beings with families and feelings also however I suspect they don’t care one jot.
Sometimes abuse at games and on social media can be drink inspired although that is no excuse. Being abusive on social media is nothing more than a default mechanism for those who cannot or will not debate or discuss or appreciate opinions other than their own.