WARNING THIS POST CONTAINS STRONG RACIST AND HOMOPHOBIC LANGUAGE. Too often, we sanitise what has been said lest we shock people. People SHOULD be shocked at what was sung at Tottenham on Sunday, and disgusted at the media for ignoring it.
When I heard the Tottenham fans singing about Sol Campbell on Sunday at White Hart Lane, my ears picked up.
It’s been a while since I’ve heard them sing *that* song, so I Googled the chant, just to make sure my ears weren’t lying to me.
This is what they were singing:
Journalist Philippe Auclair tweeted about the Tottenham chant for Aaron Lennon which followed straight after. A ‘moving moment’ he called it, claiming not to have heard the same number of people singing about Sol Campbell in the previous chant.
A ‘moving moment’? From the people who called Campbell a lunatic because of his own battles with mental health, before wishing him, as a black man, lynched from a tree suffering from HIV because, you know, he’s also queer (he isn’t, not that that matters).
I saw only one journalist call the Spurs fans out for the chant, James Dodds from talkSPORT. The rest? Well, it wouldn’t do to be criticising Spurs fans on their big day, would it?
It reminded me of the time Alan Parry on Sky praised the atmosphere at White Hart Lane as 30,000 people called Arsene Wenger a paedophile at a volume that was more than clear on the TV and must surely have been deafening inside the stadium. A ‘vibrant atmosphere’ he called it.
Those who will try to tell you that it’s ‘just a song’ or a ‘bit of banter’ will inevitably be white, straight and with no mental health issues. Only someone who has never feared for their very life because of something they have no control over, someone who has been persecuted, abused and ridiculed knows the insidious nature of this sort of chanting.
They know where it leads because they have often been the one to whom it led.
The authorities will say that it’s only a ‘few morons’, if they say anything at all.
But this wasn’t.
This was thousands of people singing with impunity the most vile things about a player just because he signed for their rivals.
Tottenham fans may well remember their final game at White Hart Lane for its rousing atmosphere and 2-1 win over a Jose Mourinho team that would rather have been playing a Europa League game, but I won’t.
I will remember it as the day football very clearly answered the question ‘why don’t more footballers come out?’ I will remember it as a day that glorified racial abuse that ends up with a man swinging at the end of a rope.
And I will remember, that while they supported one player for his mental health problems, they ridiculed another in the same breath and nobody said anything.
Shame on you, Tottenham and shame on you, football.