Friday, October 2, 2009

Arsenal's Fans Found Guilty As Adebayor Walks Free, Will They Get Suspended?

Last night the FA handed Emmanuel Adebayor a fine and a suspended two game ban, but they also decided that Arsenal's fans had provoked him in the first place.

This was the second part of the FA's investigation into Adebayor's behaviour during Manchester City's 4-1 win over Arsenal at Eastlands in September.

Having being found guilty of stamping on Robin van Persie's face, and receiving a three game ban for that indiscretion, the FA met to discuss his provocative celebration. The resulting fine of £25,000 works out at one days pay for the striker, with the suspended sentence hanging over him until December 2010.

The real news from this hearing however, is that the FA found the celebration of the ex-Arsenal player was somewhat justified, stating that he was severely provoked by his former fans.

Adebayor attended a personal hearing at the FA’s new Wembley offices on Thursday, to give his side of the story.

An FA statement said that "the regulatory commission had taken into account the
‘extremely provocative nature of the abuse’ Adebayor had suffered and that he had admitted the charge and apologised for his behaviour."

Adebayor’s celebration incensed Arsenal fans and a steward needed treatment after being struck unconscious by a missile.

In a warning to other players not to repeat Adebayor's actions, the FA statement read: "Such celebrations are unacceptable and have the potential to cause a serious public order incident."

The basic cut and thrust of the FA finding is that Adebayor had suffered abuse at the hands of Arsenal's supporters for more than a year. It continued by stating that Adebayor was only un-gentlemanly in the way he rubbed their noses in it after he scored against his old club.

The FA are now likely to move against fans who systematically abuse players on a football pitch. Abuse, or banter, as it is so lovingly referred to, can often be of a quite sickening nature, and for some reason football has not moved with society in trying to stamp out this kind of behaviour.

The kind of chants that greeted black players with a sad regularity in the 70s and 80s has more or less been eradicated from the game. Recent events between West Ham and Millwall however, show that this kind of behaviour is still prevalent in modern society.

Ian Watmore, the FA's Chief Executive has called for an end to this behaviour, as the FA hope to re-launch their anti-racism campaign under a new anti-hostile and anti-abusive banner.

"What we have seen this season are the tentative signs of some issues on the fans’ side of the equation," Watmore said. “There are areas of chanting that go beyond what’s technically illegal, like racist or homophobic chanting, into what I think of as vile chanting.

“We in football should think about ways in which we can exorcise that from the game — but without glorifying it — because it puts the average person off. They don’t like it when it’s their own crowd doing it and, to the players, it can be declared as a hostile and abusive act as much as being racist or homophobic.”

Over the last year, the most prominent cases of abusive behaviour by fans have emanated from north London.

Both Spurs', and now Arsenal's fans have come under the spotlight for abuse directed at ex-players, Sol Campbell and Emmanuel Adebayor, with both having to endure particularly sickening abuse from fans who once cheered them.

Watmore now hopes to roll out the next stage of the "Respect" campaign onto the terraces after healing bridges between officials and club representatives in both amateur and professional ranks.

“It’s about clubs working in a dialogue with their fan-base and it’s about fans regulating their own behaviour,” he said. “It’s about a holistic approach to behavioural change and that’s something the FA can orchestrate. We have had improvements in a lot of areas, but where we haven’t got high standards, we need to come down on it.”

The next question to ask is: "When will the FA start finding clubs guilty for what their fans do on the terrace?"

It's a simple solution really.

The actions of the fans that represented Arsenal during the Adebayor celebration incident was idiotic to put it mildly. No celebration could ever be found guilty of provoking such a response from any right thinking individual.

Clubs whose fans behave in such a way should have to serve a suspension and play their next home or away match in front of opposing fans only, depending on whether the incident took place at home or away.

With this suspension hitting both the club in the pocket and fans in their hearts, it would not be long before both worked together to rid the game of something that is both pointless and needless.

Chanting against an opponent will always be part of the game and rightly so. This is what "banter" is.

When it becomes racial, abusive, homophobic, or sickening, it's simply unwarranted.

Football has simply to move with the times.

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