‘Banter’: It’s time for change

How horrid and morally devoid a mind of a human-being must be to mock the tragic deaths of other innocent humans for the sake of getting a rise from a rival football team.

To lower themselves to such a level that would normally see them condemned and punished outside of the confines of a football stadium.

Yet they feel untouchable from the stands, safe in the knowledge to that they can broadcast their hatred behind a wall of police officers, protecting them from any potential physical retribution such is the emotion-tugging nature of their chants.

This is precisely what is happening on the stands of some of the UK’s greatest football institutions.

Most recently displayed by a small selection of Manchester United supporters at Anfield during, alarmingly, a Youth FA Cup semi-final. It’s rare, if not unheard of, that such behaviour spills over from the first team fixtures despite the decades-long rivalry between the sides.

Fans chanted the now sadly familiar references to the Heysel and Hillsborough tragedies that are not worth repeating here.

Behaviour like this is particularly appalling at a game which is largely dominated by families and younger supporters.

At the risk of sounding condescending, young fans are impressionable, maybe even more so than usual when present at a game, vile chants and hate-fueled songs have no place in the game at any level.

It’s at this level where fans and players should be falling in love with the game at it’s most basic level, passion-filled and stripped of excess and money. It shouldn’t serve as a classroom for fans to continue to teach the almost hereditary hate for an opposition club.

Some people point to a ‘culture of acceptance’, thus making excuses for these type of ‘supporters’. A mentality that if it’s gone on for this long there is little chance of it halting any time soon.

A viewpoint that only masks an inherent ignorance and moral corruption brought about by the company they keep and the conditions of their upbringing as fans.

These are people unable to take a step back, make decisions for themselves and not be worried their own viewpoint will alienate themselves from the rest of the neanderthals.

It is not just Manchester United who have such cancerous fans among their ranks. A number of other clubs’ fans mock each others misfortunes in the UK and around the world, Italy among the most famous for doing so.

Liverpool fans themselves have been been guilty of mocking those who died in the Munich Air Disaster in 1958.

Had these tragedies not been involving sportsmen and fans they would almost certainly be annually mourned as national disasters and not just by fans and the people of their respective cities.

Which in many ways they should be; we should all be respectful of people who have lost thier lives following our national sport, rival or otherwise.

Football blurs borders, race, class and language. It brings us together as humans, and provides a focal point to aim our energy. It’s important to remember just that; we are all human, as were those who died at Hillsborough, Heysel, Munich, Ibrox and Valley Parade.

That same energy should be used in a positive way as often as possible, not wasted on hate-mongering about events that happened in the past.

Of course these events do have an important place in the history of football, yet dragging the deceased’s names’ through the dirt in the name of rivalry is unacceptable.

While this is a problem within football as a whole, in the UK at least the majority of fans are well educated and refrain from this type of behaviour. Its that four or five percent that are dragging the rest of us down with them into the gutter.

It’s another major issue that needs to be addressed from top levels of The FA. This so called ‘banter’ should be fading as time goes on, not increasing and oozing its way into the lower levels of Britain’s top clubs encouraging a new generation of footballing numbskulls.

If not for the sake of fans opening bating either other into violence but for the sake of the families of the dead, those who are still hurting years after and will continue to do so. A simple show of respect and dignity is not difficult.

The solution begins alongside the problem – in the stands with the supporters.

Every self-respecting fan should do their utmost to stamp out any public display of blatant line-crossing among their own fans. As a problem, it’s one that needs to be solved from within, with the help from outside bodies.

Without support from fans it will continue, thankfully there are more than enough fans out there willing to educate and inform. The change may take time as it may be part of an older generation’s hardline behaviour, yet with enough people pulling in the same direction change is possible but only with the commitment from every fan in every stand.

One thing to take away to consider when touching on this subject is that no matter what Liverpool’s great Bill Shankly said football is certainly not more important than life and death.

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