ByÂ Karan Singh:
I can never understand why some crazed fans bring in hatred into the world of sports. A few of my friends, including myself, have been loving / living football for over a decade and a half now and still applaud the performance of a rival club or a player who does not have us in his fan club.There have been many occasions when we scoff, mock and resort to envy which borders on un-healthy, but hatred … never! That word should never have a place in the world of sport.
This stems from the recent spectacle that concluded at the Old Trafford earlier this week. A match billed as the mother of all matches in the Europe’s elite football competition. A bold tactical move, beating the enemy at its own game till about 2/3rds of the match, a red card and the consequential loss later, the world has moved on; so have the manager, players and supporters of the club (about 75 thousand inside the ground and more than a hundred times that number outside). Yet, the hatred from rivals, a few pundits and proclaimed ‘supporters’ of other clubs is palpable.
The problem with a club like Manchester United is that its brand is so powerful and so far reaching, it has started attracting the ignorant and the juvenile by the droves, lot more than connoisseurs and the educated. I am a member of multiple football forums across the world and I read thousands of words everyday where people from far corners let loose their PDA. Some of them mean it because they know the history, the manager, the players and what the club stands for. But, most of them write in because they want an association with a name that’s cool and ensures their lesser knowledgeable connections hem and haw in awe.
This is where precisely the ‘haters’ bandwagon steps in. I refuse to name any specific club(s); even when I’m tantalizingly tempted to. Supporters who have taken the virtual social world by storm by digressing the entire attention from the red card (which by any stretch of imagination was NOT fair) and how the game was played before hand to discussing United paying referees, being called hypocrites, sore losers and bad sports.
I have absolutely no problem with banter — in fact, football would be so dull without it. Imagine living a life without friends and siblings (read squabbles and nit-picks). However, I do have a problem when the ‘hater’ gang goes out of the way to make comments that hit below the belt. Haters, who in many ways belong to the ignorant class of the football world who have no idea about what their chosen club stands for, forget about their history, legends of the past or even trophies won. In fact, funnily, there are a lot of guys who choose a favourite club based on how their jersey is designed, the look of the logo, the sponsors, and the coolness quotient of the name.
Another reason why these mofos have sprouted up in the recent past is because it’s ‘cool’ to hate the Manchester Uniteds, Real Madrids and Barcelonas in the world of football. Noveau-riche clubs with wealthy investments made via the Middle East / Russia are the toast of the day (I did name drop eh?). Expensive players earning over the roof wages every week representing the growing tribe of the modern day mercenaries in sport
If I may: when it comes to English football, Manchester United is the only club that has stood in front of all challengers over the past two decades. Liverpool were steadily and surely knocked off their perch in the (late eighties &) nineties as the powerhouse of English football, in came Arsenal carried by Wenger with his group of invincibles to be dislodged in the early 2000’s, Chelsea with the Special One came in with blank cheques signed from Russia and lasted a couple of years in the middle of the decade followed swiftly by the emergence of investments funded by the Arabs. There has been one, and only one club that has survived all these fights as a boxer who takes on the best opponents, bout after bout, knocking them out one by one, and still retains the same tenacity and mental strength, ready to take on bigger opponents. If this does not tell you something about the toughness quotient about this club, nothing will.
A final concluding thought that would sum this piece up: pardon those who join the boo-effing-hoo tirade about some of us getting personal about abuse directed at their clubs. If you love sports, it has to be all heart. If not, it is an ostensible certificate of your frivolity