Rivalry aka Hatred

by Natasha Shafai

Arsenal and Spurs
Everton and Liverpool
Newcastle and Sunderland
Rangers and Celtic
Barca and Real
United and City
United and Liverpool
United and Leeds

The list is endless……

Rivalry is a NEED in football. If you don’t have a rival then what is the point? Who will you
gloat to/about? Who will your songs be about?

A match between rivals is about more than the three points. It’s about pride, that nervous
sick feeling you get before the game that permeates through you as you watch the game, it’s
the collective devastation as they score and the collective relief when you score and it’s the
sadness or elation of winning and losing that you share with your football friends. You have
friends and then you have football friends. Football friends are the people who you share
deep emotions with. You laugh, smile, despair and even cry in front of them and with them.
You sing you heart out alongside them ensuring that you have no voice for work (bad news
if you work in a call centre). You actually share emotions with your football friends that you
don’t show in everyday life and sometimes a football friend is a real friend too and that are
the best type.

Back onto rivalry…. I have an Arsenal fan friend and when I asked him about Spurs he said he
hates them. I asked a City fan about United and he said he hates them with the usual
bitterness. I asked my Barca loving friend about Real and he said he hates them adding that
it’s for political reasons. I asked my Celtic fan friend about Rangers and he said he hates
them. The rivals list in endless but the reason is always the same…Hatred. We are taught at
school and by our parents that it’s wrong to hate people but when it comes to football all of
those wise word go out of the window. I hate Liverpool…there I said it. City fans won’t
believe this but I have always hated Liverpool more and not because of recent events. It’s
the fixture I look for first when the fixtures are released in the summer and it’s the one I
want to win more than any other league game. When I was at primary school United were,
well some say rubbish but I say in transition, and Liverpool were winning everything and
actual Manc’s were Liverpool fans…Why? You should support your local team but that’s a
debate for another time. I also hate the scouse because that it what is in my DNA. But what
happens when that hate turns to vile chants and then violence? Rangers and Celtic spring to
mind. We all know that violence is wrong but in a football context one side is outraged and
the other side try to justify the chants and violence. Where do we draw the line? The vile
chants? Calling Wenger a paedophile is ok because he’s in the public eye? Chants about
Munich are ok because it was a long time ago? Ditto for Hillsborough? Calling someone
Fenian scum is ok because it’s just directed at Celtic fans? But we descend into a slippery
slope and arrive at racism if all of the above is ok. The FA want to kick out racism and are on
the homophobia trial and quite rightly but by giving people 8 match bans and a couple of
grand fines for using racist and homophobic language doesn’t seem to be showing them the
red card and so, in turn, the FA are basically saying that it’s ok for fans to behave in that way.
A ban for a full season (or maybe a ban for life) would sort out these problems and it’s up to

us to help sort it out. I was working at United and it was Spurs v Arsenal at Old Trafford for
an FA semi final (god knows why they made all the fans travel up north) but anyway I was
working in the hospitality seats and there was this guy there calling Vieira the n-word all the
time. If he talked about Vieira he called him that and it disgusted me to the point where I
told my manager that he had to be gotten rid of. Before he was thrown out it turned out
that he was an Arsenal fan calling his own player that word I couldn’t believe it…I still can’t
but the worst thing was that no Arsenal fan said anything to him about it it took me, a
United fan, to say ”shut the f up you are way out of order using that mingin’ word” I almost
lost my job for tackling him about it but it shocked me that no one said anything so it’s up to
us in 2012 to start sorting this out. If you hear it say summat… there is nothing they can do
when they have been thrown out and a couple of digs by fans to that person whilst they are
being kicked out will show them that your club doesn’t stand for it not that I am condoning
any violence!

So, I say keep your dislike of your rival and sing the songs like ”build a bonfire” or the ‘Tevez’
chant but keep the racist or homophobic hatred out of it.

And, by the way, I will always hate Liverpool more than City; that’s just the way my loathing
lies.

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