Monday, July 4, 2022

No player deserves personal abuse

David Nugent in Editorial, English Premier League 1 Nov 2019

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As football fans, we tend to get angry, excited and often frustrated by our team’s efforts on the pitch. This tends to spill over anger on social media sites, which some fans take far too far. Some of the things typed by keyboard warriors make you question humanity at times. It is only a small majority of people, but social media seems to bring the worse out of some people.

Granit Xhaka situation

When Granit Xhaka was substituted during Arsenal’s 2-2 draw at home against Crystal Palace, he gestured to the fans and used profanity to the fans who had booed him off the pitch. As captain of Arsenal, Xhaka should have known better than to act in that way.

However, sometimes fans forget that footballers are human beings. They have the same emotions as the rest of us. There has been plenty said of Xhaka since the incident.

The player himself recently revealed that he has received all sorts of person abuse since the Palace game. People talking about horrible things relating to his wife and child. There is a line that shouldn’t be crossed and that sort of abuse is way beyond that line.

I have seen some excuse the behaviour by saying stuff like ‘well, he is a public figure he should expect that’. The thing is these people are highly unlikely to say these horrible things to Xhaka’s face. They only do it online, as they are relatively anonymous.

These comments are usually from sad, delusional people who are angry at the world. Unfortunately, social media has become a forum for these horrible comments and cowards to thrive.

Xhaka is not a great footballer

To me, there is big a difference between criticising somebodies football ability or form and launching personal attacks. For example, I have seen a lot of Xhaka for Arsenal, as I covered Arsenal in a professional capacity for four years until last summer.

He arrived with a reputation as the sort of defensive midfielder Arsenal needed. His billing was that he was more than just a midfield destroyer and that he could play a bit. Since his arrival in north London, his displays have been erratic.

Every time he tackles, he seems to foul his opponent and he can be incredibly rash in the tackle. At times he can be a liability to the team. There you go I have criticised his football ability. I don’t know the Swiss international personally, so I couldn’t criticise him personally.

However, I can give my opinion on his performances on the pitch, which to be fair have not been great. I wouldn’t wish him any harm off the field, though, because at the end of the day he is just a footballer. He is there to do a job.

Social media is a blessing and a curse in the modern game

The advent of social media is both a blessing and a curse in the modern game. It gives players an avenue to address the fans and engage in conversation. That way fans feel like they are more connected with these multi-millionaires than before.

However, social media can also be a player’s worse nightmare. Some players stay off the likes of Twitter after a defeat because of the amount of abuse they would receive on a daily basis. The fact that the players earn so much money should not be an excuse to abuse players and expect them to say nothing.

We have had numerous occasions where fans have clashed with players in the past. However, these sorts of situations tend to die down pretty quickly. Whether Xhaka will be an Arsenal player much longer is unclear. It seems unlikely that he will face Wolves this weekend, in a game that the Gunners are odds of 3/4 to win.

One thing that is clear is that even on social media people should attempt to keep a touch of common decency, as things often escalate very quickly when people believe they believe they are anonymous and it is not clever to abuse somebodies’ families, just because they are a footballer.

Will Granit Xhaka play for Arsenal again?


David Nugent

David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The experienced writer has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.



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