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The misguided sense of fan loyalty in football

CONTRIBUTOR
Feature
245   //    20 Feb 2018, 18:41 IST

Rochdale v Tottenham Hotspur - The Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round
Rochdale v Tottenham Hotspur - The Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round

Sport remains an integral part of the lives of a significant proportion of the human population who experience all waves of emotion depicting pure theatre and drama in their capacity of being fanatics. We enjoy unbridled joy and exhilaration during triumphs and experience unexplainable despair in times of defeat.

Sport teaches us valuable life lessons in making us acknowledge as well as be realistic about the fact that victory and defeat are two sides of the same coin and while celebrating victory in full force, we must remain humble in setbacks, appreciate and credit our opponents for being better than us whilst strengthening the spirit of life and the game we adore.

This article focuses on the beautiful game of football and its' growing fandom of approximately 3.5 Billion which makes it the most followed sport on the planet. As much as the players, sponsors, and the team management, the fans are also equally significant stakeholders of the game.

Fans make the sport so much more colourful and energetic and players and the coaching staff feed off this vibrant atmosphere to deliver their very best in order to emerge as victors.

Additionally, income sourced from fans remains considerable and the strides taken by clubs to cater to the same underlines what a major player fans have become in the grand scheme of events.

The atmosphere which the Fans created during the FA Cup Round of 16 match between Rochdale and Tottenham at the Spotland Stadium was nothing short of brilliant with the chanting and roaring supporters creating a stunning atmosphere.

Undoubtedly, this rubbed off on the players who were pushed to perform to the very best of their capacity. The Rochdale fans were rewarded with a late equalizer in the dying seconds of the game which secured them a replay at the iconic Wembley Stadium.


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It remains clear that in addition to the Clubs having an obligation towards its' fans to perform to the best of their abilities and win silverware, the fans too have an obligation to sustain the goodwill of the club and the spirit of football as a whole.

However, unfortunate occurrences over the course of time have ensured that fans do not necessarily meet their end of the bargain. While the actions of a minority of fans do not represent the values of the Club and the fanbase, it still paints a grim view of the events which have transpired.

Clashes at stadiums between football fans and players continues to rear its' ugly head time and time again with the latest confrontation taking place last evening at the D.W. Stadium when Wigan Athletic hosted Manchester City.

The expected result of the Manchester City juggernaut rolling never transpired as Wigan stunned the Premier League leaders with a display of verve, hunger and determination. This magnificent upset should have stolen the headlines were it not for the unnecessary drama at the end.

Also read: Why it's unfair to dismiss foreign fans as plastic

As the referee blew for full time, scores of Wigan fans descended on to the pitch to revel in the triumph. Rather than celebrating with the players who gave their all to bring a wide smile on all of their faces, some fans decided to confront Aguero and attempted to get a reaction out of him which provoked the player to an extent that his teammates had to rush in to quell the situation from escalating further.


The altercation which marred a fascinating FA Cup tie
The altercation which marred a fascinating FA Cup tie

People can argue this is another extreme of football given the helter-skelter nature but in my eyes this is a situation which could have easily been avoided. Had the set of fans who rushed in stayed away from the opposition, Aguero would never have got involved in any of these regrettable events.

Of course, the counter-argument would be that as a professional, Aguero should not have got provoked into a fight. If the reason given was that the fans got caught up with the heat of the moment, the same applies to Aguero who is, after all, a human being full of emotions like all of us.


In addition to this with the rise of social media, there has been a string of abuse directed via tweets and posts by fans with the regrettable factor being that these negatives grab a lot of attention and headlines as opposed to positive comments centering on appreciation, acknowledgement and mutual respect.

Some fans claim that their actions were inspired because of the incredible passion they have towards the club they follow.

Does being a fan of club mean that you have to be extremely hateful towards rival clubs, players and fans? Does unleashing torrents of vitriol make you a loyal fan of the club you love? Do the fans who cheer their club passionately but at the same time remain mutually respectful of the opposition clubs, the players and their fans be deemed less loyal? Is it right for such fans to incur the wrath for being that way?

The answers to these questions, in essence, remains that fans while making the game ever so beautiful and eye-catching have a clear responsibility to behave in a manner befitting some basic morals, principles and sustained value.

As much as players should remain examples, fans also should behave in a manner that strongly displays professionalism and etiquette. The fans at the Spotland Stadium are a recent prime example of demonstration whilst the fans who instigated the ugly post-match events at the D.W. Stadium surely can't feel proud of themselves.

Fans should not mistake loyalty as disrespect for rival clubs and players.

Also read: A case for the referees: Why the match officials need to be protected

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