Booing an increasing problem in football
Published: 19.12.12 / Written by: David Gold
One of the trends of modern football, an aspect of the impatience of the modern game, is the increased propensity of fans to boo their teams.
So far this season, Tottenham, Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea fans have all turned on their teams at points. It would be quite a surprise if more than one of those sides fails to qualify for the Champions League, though at the same time, far from out of the question.
Probably the most disgraceful case of booing came at Arsenal, whose fans should never turn on Arsene Wenger in the way they have. No man has done more for the club possibly in its entire history. If there is one individual deserving of the perpetual benefit of the doubt, it is surely Wenger. The fans who jeered at the end of the Swansea game were fools. Most fans who jeer at any game are foolish. There are few things more pointless in football than grown men who have paid for a ticket to watch their team, booing those who they have invested their emotional hopes in.
Man City fans are not far behind Arsenal’s, having jeered their team at times less than half a year after winning the league for the first time in decades. If that is not moronic behaviour at its very height, what is? Beyond City, Tottenham fans were booing Andre Villas Boas after just two games. Two games! Utter madness. And Chelsea turned on Rafa Benitez in the most uniform disapproval of a new manager the game has seen for some time. You can understand why they would not want Benitez in charge, and no one can begrudge a Chelsea fan their right to feel that way. Indeed, there is plenty of sympathy with them, even among those who are pro-Benitez, given the history between him and the Blues. Yet what was the point in booing? Really?
And what provokes the imbecility that is jeering your team? One popular refrain is this, that you’ve paid your money to go to the game, and therefore are entitled to behave as you wish and to voice your anger. That may be true, but whenever do you hear a group of diners jeering a chef who has cooked them a sub-standard meal in a restaurant? Do you ever hear groups of passengers booing when a train is held up by a red signal for several minutes?
This behaviour is unique to football. The reason is rather simple. Football fans invest so much energy and emotion in the sport that they are particularly disappointed when things go wrong. For some, the idea of a 2-0 defeat to Swansea is just too much to take. Frankly, Swansea are an excellent side. These things happen – the Arsenal fans who booed the club when they lost to the Welsh side should get over it. Life goes on. The world continues to turn. Worse things happen in the world than a football team losing on a Saturday. That is the imbecility of football – that grown men who have paid large amounts to watch a game of football should jeer those they have paid so much to watch. It does not help improve the quality of the football. It helps nothing. It is a statement by fans that they are no longer with the team. Is there a more counter productive way of expressing dissatisfaction in the sport today?