Shazia Mirza, (above) writing in tomorrow’s Guardian, attended last Sunday’s Liverpool v. Chelsea tilt and marveled at the badwill on display, gushing, “I thought the abuse I get in comedy clubs was bad, but it’s nothing compared with this…all of a sudden I have a new respect for football players. They get personal and professional insults hurled in their faces while they’re working.” Yes, indeed someone does go to
Rafa Benitez’ job and tries to knock the Dirk (Kuyt) out of his mouth.
It’s all very civilised. Everyone sits quietly, listening to the Chelsea Brass Band on the sidelines; there’s no tear-gas, firecrackers or those hooligans dressed up as policemen beating up random people. An announcement is made just before kick-off. A man shouts, “Racism is not tolerated at Stamford Bridge.” Does he mean it’s OK everywhere else?
The Liverpool players run on to the pitch and a barrage of abuse begins, the like of which I’ve never seen before. The three men in front of me, who could have easily been my solicitor, accountant and gynaecologist, all dressed nicely in brown woolly cardigans and smart jeans, open their mouths and everything changes. They start shouting, “You murderers, you f*****g murderers, you kill your own fans.” I look around and everyone’s chanting the same thing. They’re murderers? That’s quite a statement. Do the police know about this?
Liverpool get the ball off Chelsea, then I hear men shouting, “F**k off, you thieving c***s”, followed by random abuse directed at Liverpool’s Spanish goalkeeper, JosÃ© Reina: “You’ll never play for Spain “ you’re rubbish, you fat Spanish waiter.” I thought he was a goalkeeper “ why are they calling him a waiter? Five minutes later, they follow it up with, “You fat tart.”