Mocking Tragedy Isn’t ‘Banter’

In a normal Premier League campaign, matches like last night can happen. Manchester United won countless titles under Alex Ferguson whilst losing games against poorer teams in the division. The problem that Liverpool face is that they’re up against a cheat code, a side that has changed the face of football to such an extent that a draw can feel like a defeat and a loss feels season-ending. On the face of it, losing away to Leicester City, who are probably the fifth best team in the country, isn’t something that we need to throw our toys out of the pram over. What has left me feeling so angry today, and I doubt that I’m alone, is the fact that we were so poor for the second-half. In fact, there’s an argument that we were poor from the moment Mo Salah missed the penalty. It is common for supporters to have ‘this is one of those days’ running through their heads, but Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool side has never been so fatalistic, yet we saw that happen last night.

There are conversations to be had around certain issues, such as Sadio Mané’s form and the fact that we needed to look to nearly-36-year-old James Milner to change the game. If you wanted to, you could be critical of the manager’s starting eleven and the fact that every substitution seemed to make us worse, but if the German was in front of us he might point out that Naby Keïta ran the show against the Foxes in the League Cup but didn’t seem to know what a pass was at the King Power. Our best chance of a title win now is if we beat Manchester City at their place, Chelsea beat them when they play them and we win all of our remaining games. Having already dropped points from winning positions against Brighton & Hove Albion, Brentford and Tottenham Hotspur, I’m not sure that we have the ability to do that. Whilst the title might be slipping from our grasp, I at least take heart in the fact that our supporters aren’t like the Leicester fans last night.

Poverty Is A Tragedy

According to the Trussell Trust, their food banks alone provided 936,000 emergency food parcels between April and September this year. That’s nearly one million families that are only able to eat thanks to the work of volunteers and donations from those more fortunate, who have money to spare to buy a little bit of extra food every now and then. Despite numerous Tory politicians heading to food banks at Christmas time to have photos taken for a bizarre piece of publicity, it is the policies of their government that has seen food bank usage shoot up since 2010. Struggling to be able to eat isn’t something to laugh at, regardless of which football team you support. Leicester City fans turned up at Anfield and sang ‘Feed the Scousers’, but Liverpool supporters dropped food parcels off at a Leicester food bank because hunger doesn’t wear club colours. It wasn’t just the fact that Foxes fans sang that last night, it was the vigour with which they chose to do so.

Football fans should not be signing songs about poverty and being unable to eat. That is not ‘banter’. That is not ‘a laugh’. It is embarrassing and it misses the target. The Tory Party has plunged millions of working class people into poverty, yet rather than all aiming our vitriol at them, football fans are mocking each other. It makes me want to scream, such is the extent to which I hate seeing millionaire and billionaires get away with literal murder whilst those that can barely afford to buy food are the ones being attacked. It is worth pointing out at this point that Leicester is a worse off city than Liverpool in terms of deprivation, so all the people that were at the football match were doing were punching down on their own. I have precisely no time for it. There will be some whose instinctive response to this will be to say ‘keep politics out of football’, but by singing songs about people being unable to eat, the Leicester fans thrust poverty front and centre.

I Have No Time For Whatabouterry

I am fortunate in a number of ways, including the fact that I’ve grown up supporting Liverpool and have therefore rarely heard songs or chants about other football clubs. Yes, we’ll sing songs about Everton and Manchester United, but they’re generally kept until we play either of our rivals. Typically speaking, a Liverpool match will be punctuated by songs about the Reds, not the opposition. I therefore can’t even begin to get my head around supporters singing about the opposition in derogatory terms. Why wouldn’t you sing in support of your own club whenever possible? Leicester City have won the Premier League title, for heaven’s sake. Don’t they have songs that glorify that achievement, rather than mocking poor people? There will be, I am quite sure, a minority of Liverpool fans who sang inappropriate songs at the King Power, with some reports of helicopter chants emerging on social media. That doesn’t justify what the vast majority of Leicester fans decided to sing.

Both things are wrong and both things need to be called out as being wrong, not used to justify one another. If I had my way, anyone caught singing about helicopters or about Munich when we play Manchester United would be banned for life. Leicester couldn’t do the same thing because their entire ground would have been issued with banning orders. Songs mocking poverty and Hillsborough references were loud enough to be heard on the television at home, despite what Gary Lineker might like to claim. None of them are acceptable and all of them deserve to be called out for the disgusting things that they are. I don’t have any time whatsoever for whatabouterry, which I find appalling at the best of times. Point out a time when Liverpool fans have been inappropriate and you’ll almost certainly find a tweet from me calling it out. It isn’t ‘banter’, it isn’t ‘a laugh’, it is wrong and the sooner we stop excusing it for some spurious reason or another the better.

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