When will clubs and supporters recognize banter as a modern day form of bullying?
Forget Hillsborough and Munich chants for a second – it’s a well-known fact that these evil chants are not tolerated anymore and are punished as such.
But what about the lesser evils from the stands, the goading of individual players from sections of the crowd?
The abuse of players from the stands has been ever present in football and it’s fair to say some chants and songs can be ingenious. There are, however, limits to this ‘abuse’ and something should be done about it when fans, supporters and the public alike cross that decency line. This was highlighted recently, by the treatment Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey received at the hands of the Stoke City supporters.
‘Aaron Ramsey, he walks with a limp’ was the ticketed line that a minority of Stoke fans were credited discredited with saying at the Britannia stadium during Sunday’s match.
All because Mr Ramsey himself refused an apology from Ryan Shawcross for a challenge that could have ended his career (David Buust) or tainted his potential (Eduardo anyone?). Luckily, I say this with tongue in cheek – he was only out for 9 months. Ramsey is well within his rights to refuse to accept an apology just as much as Shawcross has the right to offer one. Would Mr Shawcross have even offered the apology had there not been a media outrage over the tackle? This would have been another factor that Ramsey would have taken into account when declining the apology.
I mean the guy even infamously refused to shake Piers Morgan’s hand after the incessant abuse he had received from him on an almost daily basis via Twitter. Piers being a very vocal ‘fan’ of Arsenal didn’t hesitate in his public criticism of Ramsey despite him being on the road to recovery (mentally as well as physically), not to mention him being played out of his natural position and shunted to the right of midfield.
With these two isolated incidents it seems Ramsey doesn’t forgive easily, but why should he? Ramsey, his family and the rest of the sporting world would respect Shawcross a lot more if he came out to condemn the fans behaviour. Mark Hughes, even taking his nationality aside, should be addressing the Stoke minority for the good of the game. The chairman has recently come out and distanced himself from the fans behaviour but more needs to be done. A stadium ban? Possibly too strong a punishment, but the threat of one could be enough to stop any further abuse in its tracks.
If the fans love Stoke enough to defend a player who was in the wrong, being banned from watching their beloved team will determine where their loyalties really lie. I don’t profess to know anything about Ryan Shawcross outside the game but it’s a little different for Ramsey.
Ramsey is a humble young man, who has worked his way into the Arsenal team on both merit and application. He is from the same town as me and I have seen him out and about on occasion doing normal, ordinary things. He married his childhood sweetheart, and although I know that doesn’t automatically qualify him as a decent fella, it is a tick in the box for his humility.
Rooney (grab a granny) aside, there doesn’t seem to be many top quality players who have stood by their original partners. The WAG roundabout perpetually circulating. One of my friends has been in a relationship with Ramsey’s mum and as such has know Aaron for years, giving him the seal of approval. Knowing my friend and his values that’s all the recommendation I need.
It would do us all well to remember that Aaron Ramsey is a human being and a great guy to boot (don’t!) and hasn’t done anything to justify this kind of abuse. Never before has the ‘sticks and stones (Shawcross) may break your bones but names will never hurt you’ line been so out-dated and wildly inaccurate.
It’s time to stop!