Douglas Bastard's Rants of Rage

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This article was written on 26 Mar 2016, and is filled under Uncategorised.

The shite men who like football

It’s very easy to make white men feel threatened. A recent survey revealed that when a certain percentage of women, way lower than 50% were talking, men felt marginalised. Even when a comparatively small percentage of women spoke, men felt that they were taking up half of the discussion. Suggest measures that reduce cat-calling, harassment or even rape, and you’ll very rapidly be greeted by howls of outrage that men’s freedoms are being taken away.

There is, however, one environment where white men feel not only safe, but cherished and even rewarded for cheap, lazy bigotry. That’s right. Football. Whether they’re in a crowd of 40,000 all screaming abuse at the referee or some other unfortunate, or feel that they’re part of some great affiliation of club or national fandom, it makes them feel safe. We can see that they feel safe because if you’re arguing online and someone turns up and starts screaming blue murder at you, it’s a fair bet that they’re a football fan who feels other people have got their back.

A case in point is what I’m going to tactfully refer to as ‘the Ched Evans incident.’ Express a negative opinion about Evans online and you’d find that you were dealing with outraged Sheffield supporters who would support one of their players if it turned out that he had been behind the Holocaust, along with fellow-travellers from other clubs. Maybe these people aspire to lives of sexual licence like Evans seemed to have had, or maybe they already live them. I couldn’t say. But the sheer volume of hate had to be experienced to be believed.

Even agreeing with a woman who, like Jean Hatchet, had said what she rightly thought about Evans, you experience just a fraction of what women online and in person get when they try and speak up for causes that matter. People threaten you with physical violence, they say they know where you live, or will find it, and generally go purple and dance from foot to foot, sputtering with pure and undiluted rage that the world is not as they would have it be. Imagine. People with different opinions. How very dare they?

I estimate that about three quarters of these people were football fans. There is nothing wrong in being a football supporter, as I should know. I worked for a football magazine for three years, wrote about it as a freelance and worked, at various times, for Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United. Football culture fascinates me, I still love watching it and Johan Cruyff is one of my all-time heroes. But that isn’t to say that there isn’t something very dark and diseased, right down there in many of the fans’ brains.

Should you want to see just how dark, take a look at the comments around the Adam Johnson case. Most people, although not all, put up the caveat that what he did ‘was obviously wrong,’ after which they declared open season on his victim. She was, variously, a ‘slag,’ a ‘slut,’ she ‘knew what she was doing’ and has ‘ruined a man’s life.’ This overlooks the fact that he was in a vastly more powerful position, put there by money and fame, and used that to exploit her and make her do exactly what he wanted.

Girls who are groomed think that the men who groom them are their boyfriends. They give them presents, make them feel special, like they are ‘the one’ and have sex with them. Then they get them to have sex with their friends and anyone else who pays. I recently found out that men who groom children rent rooms in hotels that are interconnecting. They stay in one room while the girl sees the men who are raping her in the other room. I don’t see too many people claiming that this is okay, even though it is almost exactly what Johnson did.

These calls seem to have gone into abeyance since it turned out that he had rather outre tastes in pornography and had, in the memorable words of one Twitter commentator, ‘a diseased dick,’ but this and cases like it show that white men who like football will rally round and help other white men who play football more often than they won’t. You can do almost anything, in fact, and it will be airily waved away. Should you want to drive your Ferrari, drunk, and kill someone, then football can overlook that, provided you’re quite good at football. Drive into a ditch, similarly intoxicated, and it really won’t matter. Abuse women on an almost hourly basis until every vestige of their human decency has been destroyed? Check. Be a massive racist, despite the fact that you play with other black players? Check. This goes on, as one indignity rolls into another.

Wear the right colour shirt, though, and white men who like football will defend you through thick and thin. In the unlikely event that the law catches up with you, the white men who like football will still defend your honour. Go to prison, and the white men who like football will campaign for you to be rehabilitated. Start playing again, and the white men who like football will love you all the more. Where this all breaks down, every last, tatty wall of it, is when you bring in external logic.

As a system, many football fans’ values are wrong, but internally coherent. Everybody but Your Old Mum is a slag who is panting for it, your player who is a sex offender isn’t really a sex offender but the player on their team is, but it’s alright because it’s just banter. All referees hate you and want to inflict a very special punishment on your team above all others. The players, who come from all four corners of the earth love your team, and your area, and would die for it. All bollocks, of course, but it’s bollocks they can invest in. Outside, fixed logic, says different.

Women are unlikely to be ‘panting for it’ in the presence of a football supporter. The bloke who plays on your team and is a sex offender? He’s just a sex offender. Referees don’t hate you – it’s just a job to them. The players on your team who are getting paid millions love neither the team or your area. They’re playing for the money and would step over you in an instant if it meant that they could play for a better team and earn more money. They really don’t care about you, your life or its stupid, small concerns.

So, white men who like football, if you’re reading this and think it applies to you, I have this to say. You might feel safe when you’re with your friends or tearing people down online, but even then, you live in this world. One governed by laws, and where, if you’re filmed or photographed doing something stupid, you may get caught. The racist Chelsea fans on the Paris Metro thought they were safe, because there were lots of them and just one black guy trying to get on the train, but they were filmed and prosecuted. One day, if you keep offending the codes of normal, civilised behaviour, thinking you’re immune, that could be you. Let’s hope.

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