Oscar Wilde, Twitter and racism in football

In his essay the Decaying of Life, Oscar Wilde coined the now famous phrase “life imitates art far more than art imitates life”.

While Wilde’s work is now well over 100 years old, the words still have resonance today. Especially in the context of football.

While the rest of the world has to comply with rules, norms and all manner of social conventions, football has become stuck in pre 1970s era where foreigners are treated with suspicion and racial slurs are still considered banter.

Football operates on a plane where banana throwing and monkey chants do not carry the stigma they would off the pitch. It would be considered, and rightly so, absurd if some of the things said at football matches were done in everyday life.

And while the Suarez/Evra affair left a bad taste in the mouth, perhaps more worrying is the rise of incident, and alleged incidents both on the pitch, and off the pitch, since the Uruguayan was slapped with an eight match ban.

A few weeks a, footballer Mark McCammon vowed to bring a race discrimination claim against his former club Gillingham, alleging that the teams black players and white players were treated differently.

He told the Sunday Telegraph: “I’m hopeful that truth will prevail.”

Today, Russian football club Anzhi Makhachkala claimed that opposition supporters threw a banana at defender Christopher Samba, urging Lokomotiv Moscow to identify to fan responsible.

Samba said: “I try not to think about racism. I just want to believe that such problems do not exist on a global basis. Maybe I am mistaken but I do want to believe in it.”

However, more in line with the words of Wilde, is how actions on the pitch are affecting behaviour of the wider general public.

It would be crazy to insist that perfectly sane and rational people are turning into bigots because they idolise footballers . However, it may have legitimised inappropriate behaviour.

I myself, watching the recent Everton v Spurs games in a pub, heard a fan standing next to me refer to Fellaini as wog (he even turned and spotted me at the bar and there wasn’t even a hint of guilt in his eyes).

Also worrying is the treatment of footballers on Twitter, with Stan Collymore and the stricken Fabrice Muamba perhaps two of the more shocking examples.

Liam Stacey was arrested this morning after offensive and racial comments about Fabrice Muamba were posted on Twitter.

Stacey told police: “I was at the bar when I heard what had happened to Muamba.

I don’t know why I posted it. I’m not racist and some of my friends are from different cultural backgrounds.

Funnliy enough, his words are strikingly similar to those of Liverpool in their defence of Suarez

A statement from the club said: “He has played with black players and mixed with their families whilst with the Uruguay national side and was captain at Ajax Amsterdam of a team with a proud multi-cultural profile, many of whom became good friends.”


Sack hungry Wolves fans get their just desserts

In October, ahead of their home clash with Swansea, just three months after the start of the Premier League season, Wolves had lost each of their last five games.

When the Swans raced into a 2-0 lead, the home crowd – perhaps expecting a comfortable term in mid-table following the summer acquisition of Roger Johnson for £8m and the permanent capture of Jamie O’Hara – began to turn on their side.

Boos, jeers and cries of “you’re getting sacked in the morning” reverberated around a disconsolate Molineux.

A clearly disappointed Mick McCarthy said after the game; ““Let me clear something up. It doesn’t help,” the manager said “Let’s not give them any credit. Let’s not give any of the dissenting voices, the mindless idiots that do it, any credit whether it’s aimed at me, Karl Henry, Andy Keogh or Stephen Ward.

Fast forward to February, following a run of just one win in 13 games and a five goal home thrashing at the hands of rivals West Brom, McCarthy was out of a job.

Despite the West Brom result it was the Swansea game, which Wolves ironically came back to draw 2-2, which sealed McCarthy’s fate.

When fans no long back their team – or their manager – it takes a brave board not to act

Following McCarthy’s departure, chairman Jez Moxey told Sky Sports News: “Mick McCarthy has done a fantastic job but if we continued in this way we were definitely going to be relegated.

“The trend was only going one way and when we lost 5-1 at home to West Brom we had to act,” he added: “This

has been a decision we’ve taken with a heavy heart but we have to act in the best interests of the club.”

In short, the fans got their way. Despite never being an established Premier League side, despite McCarthy keeping the side up last season, Wolves fans expected much more. The team were never given the support they deserved – especially in their crucial home games.

The board failed miserably in their efforts to replace McCarthy, with rookie manager Terry Connor taking charge, and if Alan Shearer’s ill-fated stint as manager of relegation threatened Newcastle United taught us anything it is that, in a dog-fight, experience counts.

Perhaps understanding that the blame cannot be placed at Connor’s door, today’s 5-0 reverse against Manchester United, the same fans, called for the head of Moxey, despite him giving them what they craved.

While relegation under McCarthy seemed possible, survival under Connor looks impossible.

Maybe the Irishman wasn’t so bad after all.