During the season, one of our writers said on Twitter in regards to Jamie Vardy ‘He’s like Marmite; you either love him or remember he’s a racist’.
A player with a reputation as big as his goals tally, most of is not pleasant and Arsenal fans now find themselves in the position of having to support a player most of them spent the season slating for being a racist, a cheat, a slabberbag and more.
To some, he was ‘only racist one time’ so that shouldn’t be held against him. Leaving aside the fact that he must be the unluckiest man in the world if the one and only time he’s ever been racist in his entire life it was caught on camera and went viral, ‘it was just once’ is the racism equivalent of ‘he’s not that kind of player’.
His criminal past, which saw him receive an assault conviction nine years ago which resulted in him wearing a tag for six months, was because he was defending a hearing-impaired friend who was being abused according to Vardy, but whatever the reason, that can be perhaps dismissed as a ‘youthful misjudgement’ – young men (and women) get into fights outside pubs all the time for a wide variety of reasons. It plays no part in the thinking here.
So what do we do about him?
The sad thing about football is that, for so many, it only matters what the players do on the pitch and the end results of their actions. If he cheats to win a penalty that wins Arsenal the league (or a game against Tottenham) we will laud him for it. Last season, we were incredulous that he dived against us. Such is football.
To the best of our knowledge, Luis Suarez was racist ‘just once’ and we still hold that against him. Had he swapped the red of Liverpool for the red and white of Arsenal, I’ve no doubt our opinions of him would have changed too.
‘He’s not that type of person’.
It’s a hard one.
Football transcends so much but it also touches so many people’s lives that the people we pay millions of pounds to every year must accept the responsibility that comes with that. They are role models whether they like it or not and whether we agree or not, that’s the way it is.
After the casino incident, Vardy was apologetic and was sent on a ‘course’ to educate him on his ‘regrettable error of judgment’ (it’s worth noting that being racist is never an ‘error of judgment’) so we can but hope that did its job.
Goals tend to outweigh morals when it comes to football, so as long as he keeps scoring the majority of the Arsenal fanbase will have no problem loving Jamie Vardy.
I hate what he said but know I’ll cheer his goals and I dislike that part of me, the part that is willing to set aside social transgressions to support my team.
We shouldn’t have to do that just to be football supporters.
I can only hope that Vardy really has learned his lesson.
There will be no second chances at Arsenal.