Ahead of tonight’s North London derby and in light of the ‘Y-word debate’, it’s worth pointing out that you can’t simply pick and choose what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable to say in a footballing context. It’s inconsistent, lacks moral judgment, and by kowtowing to whatever fascinates the public consciousness for the time being it’s chipping away at whatever respect fans have left for the footballing authorities (or pushing it deep into the negative, as the case may be).
Just like you shouldn’t invent ‘special’ circumstances to ban one foul-mouthed rant and not penalise worse offenses on the pitch.
Just like you shouldn’t allow taboo subjects to interfere with your judgment of what’s a worse offense and what punishments are merited.
Just like you shouldn’t penalise players for being funny when a vocal minority that takes umbrage at every perceived misstep is baying for their blood.
Just like you shouldn’t hide behind rules when there’s the option to change it and make a clear improvement to how games are played.
Chris Toy’s latest SU comic captures the above issue perfectly:
As long as football tries to pick and choose the symptoms they want to treat and refuses to bring in systematic changes that would actually treat the causes, we’ll keep having the aforementioned set of problems (along with a host of other issues).
Going back to the Y-word and insulting comments in general, the issue isn’t with any specific word, it’s with how we’ve allowed our footballing culture to blur the lines between banter and genuinely distasteful and offensive comments, and how we’ve blurred the line between what’s acceptable in private and what’s acceptable in public.