Last weekend saw some phenomenal action in the English Premier League, with two marquee match-ups grabbing the spotlight in England: Liverpool vs. Manchester United and Manchester City vs. Arsenal. It was meant to be a great weekend of football that would be capped off by two matches would be watched by millions around the world, and as far as action was concerned, both lived up to the hype. However, I need to deviate from the usual format of “title-contender,” “mid-table,” and “relegation” in recapping the matches to point out some troublesome off-the-pitch action.
At Anfield, it was supposed to be an emotional day, as Liverpool were playing at home for the first time since the Independent Hillsborough Panel issued their report and completely exonerated the club’s fans for what had happened on 15 April 1989. Manchester United came to Anfield, with Sir Alex Ferguson and the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust pleading for the traveling Manchester United fans (who were given a near-full away allocation for the first time in quite a while) to end all offensive anti-Liverpool songs and show respect to the opposing fans. Just this once, in respect of the 96.
Man United wore jumpers before the match with “96” on the back, and Luis Suarez shook Patrice Evra’s hand, thus putting that issue to bed once and for all. After a beautiful tribute on the pitch, with balloons being released into the air, flowers were presented to Ian Rush by Sir Bobby Charlton, and a three-sided crowd mosaic was put on display during the opening minute of play, the focus went back to matters on the pitch, but the hostility off it was as ripe as ever.
In the 12th minute, a select amount of traveling Man United fans could be heard clearly over the television singing “Where’s your famous Munich song” towards the rest of the ground, a reference to the chant sung by a minority of Liverpool fans about the 1958 Munich Air Disaster. Eyewitness accounts claim that this was in response to two fans at the Anfield Road end of the stadium doing the “Munich Aeroplane Pose” towards them a minute earlier. After the match, while being held in the ground by stewards as the rest of fans left, a number of fans could be heard yet again singing the aforementioned song, in addition to chants of “Always the victims, It’s never your fault” and “Mur-der-ers”, which are references to both the Hillsborough and Heysel Disasters of 1989 and 1985 (link to the video here).
Things were rather eventful on the pitch as well, with Jonjo Shelvey getting sent off for a two-footed challenge on Jonny Evans, who got nothing despite going in two-footed as well. While heading towards the tunnel, the 20 year-old Shelvey had some words with Sir Alex. After the match, which was a 2-1 Man United win, Jonjo took to twitter to apologize to the fans for getting sent off. However, he also added one other tweet, which read:
“I have also apologised to Sir Alex, just where I come from people don’t grass people up to get someone sent off.”
That has since been deleted, but it’s clear that he’ll probably see some reprimand from the FA for that remark.
Yesterday was supposed to be a chance for Liverpool and Manchester United to move on and show that there is some common decency in football in spite of what is a very heated rivalry. Alas, the lunatic/idiotic minorities in each fan-base have overshadowed the silent majorities. Just when it seemed as though society had taken another positive step, we’ve been reminded of how far we still have to go. There’s never true unity when tribalism is still in play.
After all matches had taken place on Sunday, a stunning development took place in the form of Chelsea Captain, (twice) former England National Team Captain, and overall undeserving media darling John Terry releasing a statement. The reason? He was retiring from the England National Team effective immediately. The announcement came less than 24 hours before his FA hearing in regards to the incident that had taken place last season involving Anton Ferdinand. The statement from John Terry read as follows:
“I am making this statement today in advance of the hearing of the FA disciplinary charge because I feel the FA, in pursuing charges against me where I have already been cleared in a court of law, have made my position with the national team untenable.”
Now, I’ve already explained this in a prior post on this website, but just for the sake of clarity, let me explain how fucking ridiculous this quote is. First of all, John: You are not being charged for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand. You are being charged with misconduct and violating Rule E3, which deals with “bringing the game into disrepute.” Rule E3 specifically says that a player on the pitch cannot use “threatening, abusive, indecent or insulting words or behaviour.” It doesn’t matter what context you used them in, because The FA rules state that your intent doesn’t matter as you still used incredibly offensive language.
In addition, John, you used one, if not two “aggravating factors” as defined in the first subheading of rule E3. The aggravating factors are defined as “a reference to any one or more of a person’s ethnic origin, colour, race, nationality, faith, gender, sexual orientation or disability,” which you have admitted to doing in a court of law.
Also, the process for this charge is different than what you faced in a criminal court. The FA are not undermining the English Justice System, as they are operating under a lower burden of proof than a criminal court. You were found not guilty, because there was a reasonable doubt as to your intent. Here, you have to face the same burden of proof as Luis Suarez, known as “balance of probability,” in regards to whether or not you used the words “Fucking Black Cunt,” something that, as I have already pointed out, you have admitted to in a court of law.
John, you have no leg to stand on here. The FA has done what it believes is the right course of action and it is not untenable by any means. Why? Because they are operating by fair and consistent standards. Just because you’re an English media darling and a national hero doesn’t mean you deserve special treatment from your own governing body.
Your retirement from the English National Team is the equivalent of a spoiled little kid running to their Mom because they’ve been grounded by Dad for saying “fuck you” in response to being asked to clean their room. Your excuse? “Mom lets me say that all the time cause she knows that I don’t mean it.” Well you know what? Fuck off John.
Next week we’ll see a normal weekend EPL review, but yesterday was just too insane to focus on what happened on the pitch.
Follow Greg on Twitter @njny