There’s an assumption because you share the love of a football club, you share other similarities with your fellow supporters. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
When Chelsea fans were recorded last week shoving a black man from a Metro train in France and singing “We’re racist and that’s the way we like it”, the majority of the club’s supporters must have been keen to distance themselves from this group.
I had a similar experience at Christmas when the Owls played at Fulham. A group of around twenty Wednesday fans got on the tube at the same time as my family and I. They started off singing generic Wednesday songs but the tone changed the closer we got to the ground.
This group started singing about sending Muslims back to where they come from and that “we want our country back”, followed by chants of “E E EDL” in reference to their support for the English Defence League.
For the commuters on that tube their lasting impression of Sheffield Wednesday will be that we are a racist group of fans. It’s hard to distance yourself from it when you’re standing in the same carriage as them, wearing the club colours. Even harder to challenge them as an intimidating group.
I’ve never heard racist language at Hillsborough. That could be because of where I sit in the ground but I’m not delusional enough to believe it doesn’t happen.
Football is reflective of a cross section of society. It brings together people that wouldn’t associate beyond a football stadium. I support any attempt to kick racism out of football but there will always be groups who bring their views along with their support.
If racism is eradicated from football grounds, will it stop them airing their views on public transport?
Turnstiles aren’t a barrier to prejudice.