Atmosphere Versus Morals
Vital Manchester City received the following from Nick.
In the past couple of weeks, especially since the FA Cup semi-final victory against Manchester United, there has been a lot of focus on the Manchester City fans regarding the songs they sing. Opinions from people such as Mike Summerbee and Colin Bell, have raised the issue that it is 'sick' for City fans to chant songs about the Munich air disaster.
The argument states that it is disrespectful for fans to chant songs and express delight about such a devastating event. An event that on 6th February 1958 saw 23 out of the 44 people on board, die in a tragic plane crash, including 8 Manchester United players from the 'Busby Babes' and three of their backroom staff. Since then, a number of songs have emerged and it is now common knowledge amongst City fans to refer to a Manchester United supporter as 'A Munich'.
It's hard to imagine that if fans were directly face to face with the family members of those involved, that they would behave in such a manner. Yet surrounded by 30,000 other fans, they seem to think it is acceptable to get involved in these sickly taunts. It all seems a bit cowardly to me. So it begs the question of why do fans sing such harmful songs?
After all it is not just Manchester City fans that can be heard singing about tragic events. Manchester United fans themselves have been criticised in the past for chanting things such as 'murders' to Liverpool fans in reference to the Hillsborough disaster. Also, there were many songs sung about Marc Vivien-Foe following his sudden and tragic death in June 2003. So to point the blame completely at City fans is quite a naive way to view the situation.
It seems to me that this is just a case of fans chanting anything they can think of, in order to get a reaction from opposition fans. Lets face it, football fans up and down the country pay their money to attend games every week, in order to get a piece of the atmosphere, and there is no better atmosphere than when two sets of fans begin a 'chant off'.
It's the reason fans pay money to go, instead of watching the game on television. A fantastic example of this at Manchester City was highlighted earlier this season. During a game against Fulham in the Premier League at the City of Manchester Stadium, following an extremely poor turn out by the away crowd, resulting in a lack of atmosphere. The City fans then began to turn on themselves. All in good nature, the fans began to banter in each other, mainly between the south stand and the east stand. The atmosphere was fantastic and it resulted in a chant off and a little competition of who could do the best 'Poznan Dance'.
The question is, when fans chant about disasters, are they taking it too far? And if so, what can be done about it?
But then this would be such an impossible thing to police. For example, where do you draw the line on what you can sing about? Is it wrong to sing about the Munich air disaster, but ok to chant that 'Steve Bruce is the elephant man'?
Is it not a man's right, after spending all week grafting hard at work, to be able to go to the football, and let off steam by chanting football songs and releasing any built up aggression.
This issue goes further than football as well, as to what is acceptable to say in the country that brags a freedom of speech. Only the other day I was listening to the radio and heard the words 'Whips' and 'Chains' removed from Rihanna's new song to make it eligible for radio exposure. Is it just a case of political correctness taking over again?
The fact seems to be that the more people you are offending, the more immoral you are seen to be.
To try and remove these chants from the terraces, I think you would have to put a large emphasis on stewarding. Asking stewards to remove anyone seen to be breaking the rules and singing horrible songs. But to do this, firstly, it would have to be decided as to which songs are acceptable and which songs are not. With this, there can be no grey area. That is one of the reasons that racism was an easier thing to be removed. A straight forward, clear rule stating 'Kick Racism Out Of Football'!
Football has worked very hard with amazing success over the past few decades to cut racism out of the game. In England it is almost non existent in the terraces nowadays. This is not always the case abroad however. But if racism can be banished, is it possible to remove such chants surrounding awful events? Would we want to risk losing that match day with and football banter?