Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Football's Behaviour Issue

It was no shock at all to see Man City midfielder Joey Barton (who?) get embroiled in an unseemly incident involving a fifteen year-old Thai Everton fan. Now I'm not ready to give a free pass to any fan in such incidents as there are a lot of fans out there who are just spoiling for such nonsense. But then highly paid athletes are expected to exercise some restraint, on and off the field. Case in point - the Pistons-Pacers fracas at the Palace-at-Auburn-Hills back in November. Standards of propriety have been lowered in all sporting events, but football is carving out quite a nice for itself. Thuggishness displayed by stars like Roy Keane, Patrick Vieira et al has somehow managed to lend a sort of legitimacy to such behaviour. I read this piece by Sue Mott a while ago, and couldn't agree more. Admittedly, Mott has her prejudices when it comes to football - she seems to feel an overbearing presence of the game in England, not very dissimilar to the experience sports fans have in India when it comes to cricket (even those of us who love cricket). Now police in England want Barton's brother for questioning in connection with a grisly, racist murder. I hope it is all just a coincidence, unlike the Bowyer-Woodgate assault incident in Leeds some years ago! Incidentally, I was living in Manchester at the time - an English colleague got Manchester United tickets for me and a friend for a couple of Champions League games, even though I never actually asked. I'd like to think the Bowyers are a minority. - NK

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