Should football fans boo their own team?
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Football has long been like a pantomime. When the despised neighbours from down the road come to town they become the villains of the Saturday afternoon show. The home fans boo, berate and bully the opposing players in the most ferocious fashion possible.
But nowadays it is not just the villains of the pantomime who are booed, in recent years the show has taken a twist and on an ever increasing basis, the idolised heroes of the theatre are subject to torments too.
Home fans turning on their own players is a relatively new phenomenon in the long history of the game. It was once reserved for the utterly abject, abysmal or atrocious performances, but today it doesn’t take a lot for the jeering to begin.
Players no longer have to be on the losing side to become susceptible to a vicious chorus of boos. A draw at home or even misdemeanours in the players’ personal lives can leave them at the mercy of the fans. And it is not just a problem at domestic level; just ask John Terry and Ashley Cole. Both have been subject to abusive taunts from England fans on several occasions.
So do fans have the right to boo their own team or should they defy their own sense of disappointment and worship their Gods no matter what?
Many fans argue that the extortionate cost of a day out at the football, which for many can be a day’s wages or more, entitles them to vent their fury if the players don’t show enough of the traits like hard-work and commitment that us Brits seem to love.
Aidan Barnard, an Arsenal season ticket holder and member of the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust, said: “Top players earn crazy amounts of money, money which one way or another comes from the fans. If the players don’t perform to the best of their capabilities, it is our duty as their employers to tell them so.”
But what excuse do fans of lower league clubs have, where tickets cost less and the players earn less.
Mr Barnard says that at lower levels, booing is often the only way that fans can make their voice heard: “Fans are never involved in the big decisions that clubs make. Venting our fury from the stands is often the only way we can make our feelings known.”
However, there are many who detest the idea of booing those that they are supposed to be supporting. Surely the purpose of supporters is in the job title, to support. If the home fans start turning on their team it makes the task for the opposition that much easier. Confidence drains out of the players and they become edgy and nervous, making critical mistakes that much more likely.
Manchester United season ticket holder John Harrison is strongly opposed to booing the club he supports: “Every team has an off-day, they might miss a hatful of chances, have major refereeing decisions go against them or just perform plain awfully. Either way football fans need to recognise that their team can’t win every game.
“From time to time we all feel a little under the weather or have personal issues to contend with. The last thing you need at times like that is someone on your back criticising your every move.”
And why does this type of barracking only take place in football; you wouldn’t boo Lewis Hamilton if he failed to win a Grand Prix.
It’s because football is a passionate game and displaying emotion is an integral part of it. But while the odd boo here and there could give your team a much needed kick up the backside, an echoing chorus of fearsome boos can only ever have destructive consequences.