Saturday, 13 December 2008

Insult to Injury

What do you do to players you dislike in your favorite team?
Case in point: Arsenal’s Emmanuel Eboue.
I can’t say I like him; to be honest, I can’t say I like the vast majority of football players; they are all overpaid, and I doubt any one of them would have what it takes to be a friend of mine. I doubt they care, though, and that’s fine; as long as they entertain us with their football, the contract between fan and player is not being breached.
Eboue’s case is a rather extreme one, though. Personally, I don’t like him much as a player: he’s not of the flashy type that catches your attention, and he did manage to establish himself quite a reputation as a diver having done so during a Champions League final move that resulted in an unjust goal. I think it would be fair to say most Arsenal fans don’t like Eboue.
That, however, does not justify the events taking place during Arsenal last week’s home match against Wigan. Eboue, returning from injury, was put on as a sub out of his normal position and gave a terrible performance to match the circumstances; the supporters, some 60,000 of them, all insulted him on an ongoing basis despite Eboue playing for their own team, seeming to take all of their accumulated frustration with Arsenal on him (and this season, at least, there's ample room for frustration as far as Arsenal supporters are concerned).
Eboue didn't take it well. As the photo shows, he came out of the pitch crying. He was a shattered man.
Tens of thousands of people have worked together to shatter this person down; did he deserve such treatment? Does any human being deserve it? Can any human being handle being at the center stage of a stadium only to receive the wrath of everyone around?
An event like this makes me want to disown my loyalty to the Arsenal team so I won't be mistaken for one of the many that did this wrong.

Thing is, as I have said before, I am more than a bit two faced.
A few years before leaving Israel to Australia me and some of my friends would, from time to time (but not that often) go to see some low league football games during the weekend. These were pathetic matches played between teams light years away from Arsenal, but it was exactly this pathetic state of affairs that attracted us to the experience: it was so bad it was funny.
Chief among the entertainment material was the act of telling some of the players and the referee in particular what I thought of their ancestors; and it's not like I had evidence to support my claims. It wasn't serious; I rarely am serious when I swear, it's almost always a joke. It was all so pathetic and I was one of many, so who cares if I was having a laugh? That was my way of justifying the admission price.
Now, however, I have seen what such behavior can lead to. There is no justification for breaking a person up through such unjustified jeers, and for all I know my jeers could have been taken seriously.
I have made a huge mistake with my past behavior. Every person deserves to be respected.

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