Has political correctness gone mad? The blurred line between inciting racial hatred and good honest fun
Jose Mourinho and Son Heung-min were subjected to verbal taunts recently, but when do football fans go too far?
There is cause to deploy a platoon of padres teaching the “good book” to Stamford Bridge before the congregation’s next verbal taunt of former manager Jose Mourinho.
The Special One was loudly ridiculed as a “Judas” for managing hated rivals Manchester United during Chelsea’s 1-0 victory in the FA Cup quarter-finals.
Hang on. Wasn’t Mourinho sacked twice by the Londoners? Did he not have to find a new job to put food on the table?
How does that make him a Judas, the supergrass disciple who betrayed Jesus to the Romans for 30 pieces of silver?
Clearly this is a case of mixed fables and an acute deficit of ecclesiastic understanding. On the contrary, if anyone should be declared an unpleasant person it should be the likes of Eden Hazard and the other gaggle of back stabbers who turned Brutus-like and forced Mourinho out for a second time.
Judas was a notorious traitor. Mourinho merely got the sack and found another job.
Chelsea supporters were angels, however, when compared with the week’s other terrace transgression at White Hart Lane involving Millwall fans.
Police are investigating alleged “racist chants” aimed at Tottenham Hotspurs’ South Korean star Son Heung-min during the other quarter-final, in which he scored a hat-trick in the 6-0 drubbing.
Some of the Lions’ followers allegedly subjected Son to chants of “DVD” and “he’s selling three for a fiver”, a reference viewed to be a racist term when aimed at Asian footballers. A team of Scotland Yard detectives, no less, are investigating.
This is not the platform to discuss what makes a racist chant different from one referencing racial stereotyping or inspired by prejudice. And Millwall fans are notorious for their unsavoury rhetoric, so not for a moment can they be excused for their bile.
But compared with some of the outright racist taunts of yesteryear, the insults slung at Son, if anything, demonstrate how even the most feral, ignorant yob has been tamed by concerted efforts to weed out the Neanderthal leanings in the stands.
Making the link between knock-off DVDs and Asian sales executives is arguably no-less offensive than calling all the British class-obsessed, uptight, inverted snobs, the French all rude, the Germans too efficient, Italians too animated, the Chinese feverish gamblers, the Dutch too liberal, the Swiss all cheese-eating yodelers, the Irish fond of a party, Canadians too nice and New Zealanders all rugby-playing sheep herders.
Name-calling and stereotyping have been around since men and women started to find their voice and attempted to make sense of their tribal nature. It’s not nice, it ain’t pretty and it’s meant to offend for a list of reasons, as explained by many an anthropologist and psychologist.
If one of the Millwall fans could be bothered to trace their family tree and discover an ancestral link to the persecuted Romany gypsies of Europe, he or she may well find a lawyer prepared to make them a modest compensation mint for suffering emotional distress.
Because as well as the chants at Son, clearly audible were sections of the Tottenham fans labelling their South London neighbours “pikeys ”, a derogatory term for gypsies.
And so it goes. Maybe blind people – sorry, the sight-impaired citizens of Britain, could bring a lawsuit against those fans who label officials short-sighted in a less-than-friendly terms each weekend. Afro wearers might feel justifiably violated by the “hairiest” chants aimed at Marouane Fellaini.
BRAB – Bald Referees Against Baldism (should such an activist or WhatsApp group exist, and surely one should) – could also make a grab for a handsome claim.
England legend Alan Ball was often singled out when playing at Southampton by Saints fans: “He’s bald, he’s fat, he bounces along the ground, Alan Ball, Alan Ball”, we all merrily sang, not for a moment thinking this stereotyping was causing him and all short, balding chaps with a slight midriff grave offence. We didn’t even have a go at his ginger hair.
Those smart players taunted for whatever distinguishing mark disarmed the offenders with a wave or a smile or a rude gesture in return. Ball was one of those who laughed it off, roly-poly goalkeeper Neville Southall another.
This is not to make light of the slurs aimed at Son. It is right and proper for the law to peruse racial abuse whenever it rears its ugly head.
But what dregs remain in today’s game are hardly worth making headlines over for lousy chants that blur the lines between inciting racial hatred, crude stereotyping and overly zealous political correctness, not least because it empowers them.
Rather than waste precious police time, in these cases the offended should take Son’s lead and strike back with a hat-trick of clever retorts. Amen to that.