Depths of depravity
There appears to be no depths to which some people will stoop to vent their anger and frustration, and in doing so highlight what, in part, is wrong with football today.
In a recent English Premier league game between Liverpool and Manchester United one man has been charged for tweets sent to, or about, referee Mark Halsey. Mr Halsey was the match official in charge of the much anticipated game between these two great rivals of English soccer on Sunday last.
Mr Halsey, who recently survived a cancer scare, made an official complaint to Greater Manchester police and a 31-year-old man was arrested.
It appears that the frustration felt by the disgruntled fan boiled over and he tweeted from an account @johnwearing1 “I hope Mark Halsey gets cancer again and dies.”
Greater Manchester police have said that they are pursuing other individuals about similar messages posted on social networks and the investigation is ongoing.
The detective in charge of the case, DS Tony Lunt, said, “Clearly the victim and his family were very distressed by the extremely offensive comments posted on Twitter. We take all reports of abuse on social networking sites very seriously as these remarks can and do have a devastating impact on people's lives.”
DS Lunt added, “Twitter, like all social networking sites, can be a fantastic tool for people to communicate but it must not be abused to the detriment of decent hard working people who may be in the public eye. Our enquiries are ongoing to identify anyone else who posted these offensive messages.”
As a referee you expect to be called all sorts of names and in some strange way it’s “par for the course". It comes with the job.
I’ve been spat at. I’ve been assaulted. I’ve had my parentage called into question. And I’ve been threatened with death. One guy said I’d be murdered in my bed with my wife and family.
Sure it’s not right to be insulted this way, and no, it’s not nice when it happens. Of course some might be put off becoming a referee. Let me tell you it’s definitely not a “profession” for the faint hearted. But you get on with it.
However, I think this individual has crossed the line when making a disparaging comment to Mr Halsey’s recent health situation. That’s a little too close to the bone and goes beyond the level of “banter".
Having said all of that, Mr Halsey must have known that he would be liable to such comments and been prepared for it. It doesn’t make it any easier.
The passion, if that’s the right word, displayed by some fans, not only in the UK but across the world, can be such that any decision perceived or otherwise against their favourite team appears like a personal attack on the people involved.
As a psychologist I look at the body language of some fans and they are nearly prepared to die for their team. They spend fortunes travelling to far off places to support their team and the rivalry sometimes in the past has split families down the middle.
But their passion must be harnessed in a positive way and this incident is an indication of the down side of that passion.
Scream for your team if you will. Shout your praises from the highest mountain if you wish. But step back from this sort of uncivilised depravity.
Please keep your comments coming whether you agree with me or not.
Contact me below on all matters refereeing.
Dr Errol Sweeney