Tuesday , October 3 2023

This needs nipping in the bud asap


City fans broke the crossbar during a pitch invasion last Sunday. — AFP Photo.


Paul Kennedy

A study carried out a few years ago by researchers at Ohio State University and the University of Alabama in the US came to the conclusion that when a particular sporting team wins, fans experienced a high that lasted at least two days.

It suggested that supporters will feel a huge boost to their own personal self-esteem following a particular victory for at least 48 hours.

I’m sorry to rain on the parade of those who carried out the study, but you are kind of stating the obvious really.

My team wins, ergo I feel good for a bit. It’s not really rocket science is it?

Over the past few weeks, football fans have had an awful lot to feel good about. But sadly some have expressed their joy in a concerning way.

After Nottingham Forest beat Sheffield United to ensure a place in the EFL Championship play-off final, Forest fans rushed the pitch en masse.

During the melee that followed, United’s Billy Sharp was head-butted by one of the hundreds of pitch-invaders.

The following week, after Everton beat Crystal Palace to ensure Premier League survival, thousands of jubilant Evertonians also invaded the pitch.

This time it was Palace manager Patrick Vieira who reacted, kicking out at an Everton supporter who was clearly goading him.

I can’t defend Patrick for his reaction, but there is part of me which understands why he did it.

Then again, after Manchester City won the Premier League title on the last day of the campaign, another invasion, with Aston Villa goalkeeper Robin Olsen attacked by a City supporter as he made his way off the pitch.

In the case of Billy Sharp, justice has been swift. A man was arrested, charged and jailed for 24 weeks for the assault.

Two City fans have also been charged by police following the incident at the Etihad Stadium.

There’s no better feeling that winning, but to celebrate in the manner we’ve seen this week is nothing short of appalling.

I don’t know how it can be stopped either. When tens of thousands of supporters feel the urge to invade the pitch, there’s little the police and stewards can do about it.

Nobody wants go back to the dark days of the 1980s and see fencing erected at stadiums but I honestly can’t offer a better solution.

You can’t change the behaviour of the average football fans in England. Their support is tribal, and all common sense goes out the window when an important victory is secured.

Maybe UK football fans should take a look east to understand how passion and euphoria can be expressed in an unbridled, yet safe manner.

Việt Nam’s U23 men’s and women’s football teams both won gold at the SEA Games last week. And sure, it may not be the first team, and with the greatest respect to the tournament, there are plenty bigger to compete for.

But after the final whistle, the country came alive as hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to celebrate the victories.

And while it may have been chaotic for a good few hours, it was perfectly safe, trouble free and great fun to be part of.

Maybe for their next assignment, academics at Ohio State University and the University of Alabama should study Vietnamese football fans. Here the euphoria and self-esteem following an important victory lasts a hell of a lot longer than just a few days. VNS

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