You wouldn't get away with offensive behaviour in the street, so why is it seemingly acceptable in a football ground?
Imagine someone standing in the middle of Fargate on a busy Saturday afternoon, bellowing obscenities towards a man about a member of his family.
There’s a fair chance he’d get a tap on the shoulder from a police officer, and rightly so.
However, go into a football ground and do the same, backed by a few hundred or thousand like-minded idiots and this is apparently normal, acceptable behaviour.
On Friday night it was sexism at the forefront from some supporters. In the recent past there have been reports of racism and homophobia from fans of Sheffield clubs.
They’re in the minority and so it’s often too easy to pass it off with comebacks like ‘every club has them’ or ‘it was just a few lads, we’re not all like that’.
Similarly many of these closet bigots who use football as a way of releasing the bubbling bile that they can’t normally in public, will pass it all off as ‘banter’.
It’s not exclusive to Sheffield of course; Liverpool fans are subjected to chants about Hillsborough, Leeds United about two of their fans who were murdered in Turkey, Manchester United fans about the Munich air disaster. Again, try screaming about tragic deaths in the middle of a street and see what happens.
When someone is offended, or hurt, it’s not banter and the perpetrators should be punished.
I have a nine-year-old daughter who loves football. She plays on Saturday morning, then if someone is able to take her she’ll go to watch on a Saturday afternoon.
She would have loved to have gone to the derby on Friday night and when I heard the very audible filth coming from the stands, I wondered what I’d have done if she’d asked me what they were chanting.
Too young now to understand, I wouldn’t have told her, but in time she’d work out this sort of thing for herself.
And then she’d probably be asking whether football is really for her after all, if that is the way young girls are treated.
How would those indulging in such disgusting behaviour feel if their mother/sister/daughter was on the receiving end of such abuse?
How did the girls and women around them feel?
And what about the young boys who could grow up believing that because of what they heard, women can justifiably be treated this way?
This isn’t acceptable, it never was, and in 2018 it definitely shouldn’t be.
I don’t want football sanitised, I don’t want the atmosphere taken away, because for me it is as much a part of the spectacle as what happens on the pitch. However, loud and intimidating can be achieved without offending people over their gender, race, religion or sexuality.
Football is for everyone, not merely a pack of boozy young men.
Both Sheffield clubs have moved to condemn those involved in despicable chants on Friday night, with a Wednesday spokesman saying: “We are aware of the chanting at Bramall Lane on Friday evening and stress that this behaviour is unacceptable and wholly unrepresentative of the overwhelming majority of Sheffield Wednesday supporters.”
United’s chief operating officer Andrew Birks said: “We all have a role to play in tackling sexism issues in football and that includes identifying and reporting the perpetrators. “As a football club we want to listen to our supporters who want to highlight these issues and may have heard comments or chants which are abusive. We will then take appropriate action working alongside agencies who can help us get rid of this aspect of the game.”
If these people are in the minority then they should be easy to find. So do that and then ban them.