Respect Sol Campbell? Thanks, but no thanks
I said I would not refer back to this, but it seems that Sol Campbell and his chums in the media won't let go, so here we are again. It's a reflex of mine to react like this even when I know in my heart of hearts that my time is better spent drinking from a bottle of rum and grooming my Ricky Villa beard. But the tabloids are at it again.
The Daily Mirror yesterday run a story entitled 'Why Tottenham Fans should respect Sol Campbell as a true servant to football'.
The story initially concentrates on promoting a campaign he has set up (Kids Go Live) which aims to get children aged from seven to eleven to experience more live sport (football, hockey, horse riding - are examples listed). Its a campaign which has government backing and is personally funded by the player. Good luck to him.
But rather than just concentrate on the campaign itself, the author of the piece (John Cross) can't quite decide what the article should focus on. He starts digging his hole with some rather oh so obvious Solesque friendly statements which turn the article into yet another pro-Campbell is Great propaganda piece that paints the player as a humble, quiet man who is the paradox of modern day PR obsessed footballers. Bit like Paul Scholes. Although he's ginger and therefore not newsworthy.
The irony is of course laughable. Campbell and his PR machine are masters of the subtle touch.
The piece includes some info about what he likes (photography) and his love of films and market stalls and a couple of iconic name drops (Spike Lee and Denzel Washington). All wishy washy soundbites that contain not an iota of insight. It's like reading a textbook profile from a online dating website. But it serves its purpose in promoting Campbell.
He still harbours a desire to play abroad and live a different culture and venture into management after he's retired from kicking a ball about. Apparently this makes him 'a bit different' because he isn't falling out of a club smashed out of his head. He is then compared with Graeme Le Saux and that players who don't have a WAG and a Bentley are singled out for abuse by fans.
I work with a couple of pretentious people who read broadsheets. They get singled out (I just did it by calling them pretentious), in the same way they single out The Sun readers in the office. Welcome to Planet Earth and the bullyboy culture. Maybe Le Saux was singled out because he was a git regardless of his reading material?
Football might be this big bad brash heterosexual its a mans man game, but we all know different. It's not the 70's and 80's anymore. We just conform to a stereotype and just about get away with it. It's easier to box things up in black and white (excuse the terrible pun). Football stands are not quite an intellectual forum of discussion and discourse, are they? Even if they do manage to birth some splendid moments of comic genius in the way of non-offensive chants and banners. I guess that stereotype for many of us is acting the caveman when in fact we all take a cheeky look at a broadsheet from time to time.
Of course, there is still an element that is stuck in the past and take themselves far too seriously, with no grasp of what is right and wrong.
The article obviously does the unsurprising thing of dragging back the 'racist and homophobic' story that caused such a stir in the aftermath of the chanting that took place at the Pompey v Spurs game that led to several mug shots of Spurs fans appearing on the Most Wanted list.
Which is the reason for my reflex and this blog article.
This (the racist and homophobic chanting), according to Cross, is punishment for leaving Spurs on a Bosman. We are then given some trivia about his England career and that just because Campbell isn't spotted with a Page 3 bird doesn't mean he should be subjected to mindless chanting.
'Family man' Campbell should not be singled out for this type of abuse. And I agree. But lets not lose sight of the facts. A minority sang those chants. The majority don't include racism and homophobic chanting when telling Campbell what they think of him.
The article then mentions one or two other high profile players as examples of professionals who are also subjected to similar chants. Not that you will ever hear any of the players complain about it in casual newspaper articles or proceed to bang on about it for years and years. Cross highlights an example of an Arsenal fan calling a Fulham player a 'f**king poof'', yet the article still manages to end with a reference to Tottenham fans. But then the whole article is an exercise in the Campbell is good, Spurs fans are bad agenda.
You can read the piece in it's entirety here and make your own mind up. Cross ends it with the following: "Boo him, hate him, whatever. But don't abuse him".
Ok. Thanks for the permission and clarification. Can I quote you next time Spurs play Pompey? Try taking the average football supporter aside and define what constitutes the difference in hate and abuse when being actively vocal at a football match.
I don't condone racism or homophonic chanting. The Lunacy song that caused so much unwanted publicity was distasteful, but a court of law did not deem it either racist or homophonic. Possibly because its so ambiguous and impossible to prove one way or another. The Spurs fans arrested and charged were done so (in the end) for singing more simple and crude chants. The type that police and stewards and players and the media have not deemed newsworthy in the past. Although if the intent is of a certain over the top and vindictive nature, then you deserve to get done. Whether they would have got done if the player had not made an official complaint is altogether another thing.
Not suggesting by the way that the Lunacy song is now ok to sing. It isn't. Spurs and the police act on it if they witness anyone stupid enough to burst into song. But the song is not what its made out to be by Campbell and some quarters of the media. I'm referring to the insulting and ridiculous suggestion that Spurs fans are aware of racist connotations relating to having black people from trees in 'racist America' a number of years ago. And that we are singling out the player because he is black and that's the reason we hate him.
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Bullshit. Regardless, a way for us to avoid these accusations being made in the first place is to not sing the song full stop. Hum it. Don't sing it.
As a simple note to Cross and Campbell, even though I think Spurs fans should move on and forget about him, the majority won't because they know that the booing and hatred still gets to Campbell on the pitch and affects his game. And for that reason, it's justified to boo and scream non-racist and non-homophobic chants in his direction.
The Pièce de résistance however is when Cross calls him a footballer with a conscience. Comedy gold right there from our Mirror journo.
All I see is a former Spurs youth player and first team captain, Mr Tottenham Hotspur (that's the name he gave himself) who couldn't keep his mouth shut about wanting to stay at the club and wanting to sign a new contract because he loved the club so much. A player who loved the club so much he left on a free transfer screwing us out of millions and then walked up the Seven Sisters and joined Arsenal, picking up a nice signing on bonus and then genuinely expecting Spurs fans to forgive and forget.
Do I sound bitter? Maybe I do. But I'm just sticking to the timeline and facts. Campbell would have still been hated if he had joined Arsenal but not as bad had he left like Carrick did for a massive fee and without the lies and deception that came before his departure. I say 'not as bad' but you know what I mean.
There is no integrity to be found in his soul, and it doesn't matter how many times he attempts to prove otherwise via the tabloids.
Remember his first return to WHL after he joined Arsenal? Remember the level of noise aimed at him every time he went near the ball? No homophobia or racism. Just 30,000 or so Spurs fans screaming hatred. It rattled him. However his response post-match was to call Spurs fans racist and thus that was the sole reason why he was being booed.
"What did I do?" has been the look on his face since his move away from N17. He honestly believes he has done nothing wrong.
As for Spurs fans being racist? No wonder Ledley King hardly ever plays for us. And that Lennon, we hate him too, lucky he can run so fast. And as for Jenas, it's not because he's so bloody inconsistent that we scream out expletives when he loses the ball or misplaces a pass - its because of the colour of his skin. Exfoliate damn it Jermaine, exfoliate!
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Do one Campbell. You too Cross.
Campbell is an absolute melter of the highest order and as much as Spurs fans bring it on themselves for living in the past and singing songs about him, he needs to stand tall and look the other way and just ignore it instead of constantly attempting to justify why we are the guilty ones.
Sticks and stones.
I should probably follow my own advice and look the other way too next time a red top runs a similar non-event article.
Why should Tottenham Fans respect Sol Campbell as a true servant to football? Don't ask the Daily Mirror. They don't quite have the answer.