Arsenal fan, Shafi Musaddique gives us his take on a recent Eevee article about his beloved Gooners. Expecting angry rants and biased statements? You might be surprised….
Many of you may have read the article by Joseph Guthrie entitled ‘why modern football fans are ungrateful sods’. If so, you’ll know he used Arsenal fans as an example of the bastion of degradation.
As a Gooner residing a hair’s breadth from the plush Emirates Stadium, I’d like to say that the article was utter nonsense and garbage. But actually, a lot of what was written was true. It hurts me to admit, but I have seen a generation of Gooners crying for the dismantling of the club. Ranting and raving, many fans have caused a near civil war during the season. Bad blood and distasteful words have often been exchanged, not only via social media, but also in the stands itself. One recalls a fan calling Theo Walcott a “c**t” in the north London derby – something which caused an argument amongst fellow supporters in the stands. Theo Walcott went on to score a goal minutes later.
Modern football may have lost its “soul”, but I’d like to present to you a different side to the rose tinted view of nostalgia. As a British Asian, (one whose parents would never have imagined going to a football match in the past), I owe a lot to the richness and success of Premier League football. Increased amounts of television money, corporate deals and stadium naming rights have transformed modern stadia into a safe environment that welcomes all members of society. Stadiums such as Wembley and the Emirates have designated purpose built areas for mothers caring for their babies. I’m sure many modern day fans, those who previously could not attend, are grateful for the sea of change.
Increased revenue has attracted foreign stars to our shores – from all creeds and cultures. Whilst we can’t be certain that foreign stars “only come here for the money”, the diversity of football players has had a dramatic and positive impact in shaping a new global outlook – one that has penetrated the football consciousness. This, in turn, has resulted in football clubs waking up to the needs of players and fans alike. For example, Newcastle FC have recently provided a prayer room for Muslim members of staff, whilst elsewhere on the continent, Bayern Munich went one step further in building a Mosque for their players.
Learning about new cultures, faiths and people is always a positive step. Some may say that the big bucks and money sullies the good intention of integration and education. Yet, when we contextualise it properly, we should see it as regeneration. Think back to where English football was pre-1992; a damaged reputation, constant hooliganism and the tragedies of Hillsborough and Heysel scarring the experience of live football. Despite the steep increase in ticket prices since 1992, female, ethnic minority and family attendances to matches have rocketed. Perhaps high ticket prices are a price to pay for our new found security and proper policing of games?
We should not underestimate the role of football. It is not separate from politics, commerce and the wider, global society. There are almost certainly problems in the current climate of greedy, trophy lusting owners. A recent survey showed that over 90% of a club’s revenue goes towards the playing staff only. We should never stop questioning the ‘Big Boys’ at the top of the game and holding them to account. But we should also think clearly about the same old negative stories regarding modern day football fans.
Just remember the black hole we, as fans and as a footballing nation, where in. I’m eternally grateful that as a modern football fan I can bicker over the latest transfer dealings (or being a Gooner, the lack of transfer dealing). After all, better to discuss modern day issues such as transfers and money, than the fear of being racially abused in a time warped, caged stadium.