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Why football fans need to remember that they are rivals, not enemies

Kaushik Das
ANALYST
Feature
362   //    Timeless

Football is nothing without its fans, but they need to avoid going overboard with their hatred for rival fans and clubs
Football is nothing without its fans, but they need to avoid going overboard with their hatred for rival fans and clubs

The idea of following a football club is ingrained in many people either through previous generations or if they happen to be in the same vicinity as the club. Others get it from watching their role models or favorite teams through various means.

For the hundreds of clubs out there, there are millions of supporters worldwide. And as with many things in life, a difference of opinion also occurs among fans. One fan might think their club is better while another would disagree.

People tend to banter with others based on the success of the clubs they support. Most of the time it is harmless and taken in a light-hearted manner. After all, football is a sport that is meant to be enjoyed by those playing it as well as the ones watching it.

But in this day and age of social media, the definition of supporting a football club has changed drastically. People live on the edge if their views are not supported. They throw abuses at each other just because X supports one club and Y happens to be a supporter of another club.

The toxicity among fans is unbearable, especially on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. The enjoyment is almost taken out from watching the beautiful game of football.

Mocking people for poverty, for being homeless etc. just because they support different teams is not what it means to be a football supporter. But the worst is the mocking of the death of someone, or even bringing it into the discussion at all.

Case in point: rival fans (not all) always seem to bring the Hillsborough disaster when having arguments with Liverpool fans. That was an ill-fated day in which 96 people lost their lives while going to support their favorite football club.

No one should go to a game of football and not return back. That tragedy still haunts the people of Liverpool, and court proceedings are still ongoing to bring the culprits behind bars. But insensitive people on social media or “keyboard warriors” think that bringing up something like that gives them brownie points in their discussion regarding football.

No, it doesn’t.

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Similarly, people like to bring up other disasters like the Munich disaster and more recently the Leicester disaster and the Emiliano Sala disaster just to win some argument with random people on social media. Last year, before the Champions League semi-final match between Liverpool and AS Roma, a Liverpool supporter named Sean Cox from Ireland was seriously injured when he was attacked by a Roma hooligan named Simone Mastrelli. 

Mastrelli has since been jailed for a term of three-and-a-half years. But the fact remains that a man went to enjoy a game of football, and got beaten up and sent into a coma. That is not why people support the teams and fill the stadiums.

'Ultras' are a thing in the world of football. They are the backbone of many clubs around the world. But hooliganism in the name of being an ultra is not justified in any shape or form.

Football stops being fun when people bring death and poverty into the discussion just to put across their point. It needs to be remembered by the fans that football is just a sport that is meant to be enjoyed by all.

The teams and fans are rivals, not enemies.

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