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11th February 2004
Clean-mouthed Everton fans?

So some Everton fans have complained officially about some gestures made by Man Utd players after scoring the winner at Goodison Park. No doubt these fans refrain completely from joining in with any of the various offensive chants that can often be heard at football grounds.
If we are worried about the influence that one footballer will have on all the young people of this nation (presumably that is people's complaint because most people will probably have made an offensive gesture at someone at some point, they just don't want their kids to) - despite the fact that only the small number who were at the right end of the ground and were looking at the time would've seen it - shouldn't we maybe be the slightest bit worried about the influence that 30,000 fans will have on one footballer? If they are being sworn at and insulted for 90 minutes, it's not surprising that they can't restrain their anger every once in a while - after all, most of us love to get one over on someone who's been taking the mick, and our usual reaction will be to go to them and rub it in.
Of course footballers have to be restrained to an extent, but why are footballers held solely responsible, when some fans might often be as guilty of as incitement as players are of 'making an offensive gesture'? Thinking about it, I would be interested to know how close football crowds are to being guilty of inciting a riot when they start singing offensive songs to opposition players & fans, if you've got any ideas on this email me at comments@gptucker.net, as I'd quite like to know.
My sympathy with Premiership players only goes so far - when you are paid as much as they are, I suppose it's not unreasonable to expect some level of responsibility. Still, if you're willing to take your kid to a football ground, where they will almost certainly here all sorts of (potentially) offensive comments, why is it so shocking when the footballers join in?