What is acceptable and what is unacceptable when it comes to the chants and taunts unleashed from the terraces.
Ahead of this weekend’s game at Everton and the expected abuse to be directed Wayne Rooney’s way, I’ve been thinking about the songs, chants and general abuse directed at players by supporters of all clubs.
I’m not trying to make sweeping moral judgements, I’m not innocent enough here to do that.
Anyway, the vast majority of people who attend football matches fall within the parameter of normal members of society.
We work, have families and abide by the laws of the country and our own moral codes.
However, upon stepping into a football stadium, many seem to leave outside much of what makes them a reasonable member of society. We enter what could be perceived to be a separate reality and act in ways which would no doubt embarrass us should they be seen by those not familiar with our stadium persona.
Some of us are obviously worse than others and hopefully most know where to draw the line, but where does that line fall and do special occasions justify the relocation of it?
Only the very fringe of society would even consider shouting racist abuse in the street, yet in the ground it’s apparently easy for many to get carried away singing a song that racially abuses a footballer. We’ll read stories about Spanish and Italians clubs being fined by UEFA because their supporters make monkey chants, and we’ll sigh and shake our heads in disgust.
We’ll read stories of homosexual people being attacked and wonder to ourselves why people can’t just let others do what they want.
It’s widely accepted that insulting someone’s wife, mother or child is about as low and desperate as you can get.
However, when the person occupying the neighbouring seat starts yelling songs about Adebeyor, singing about Gary Neville’s mother or questioning the parentage of Steven Gerrard’s children, we don’t feel that to be strange at all. We may just find ourselves joining in and very rarely would anyone question the person.
Is there a line these days? And what constitutes crossing it?