After all the fuss of a few week ago when Jack Wilshire’s one fingered gesture to Man City Fan’s got him a two game ban and subsequently, Theo Walcott’s 2-0 gesture to the Tottenham Hotspur fans got him a ticking off from the FA and a ‘reminder of his responsibilities’. It has now emerged (as reported in the Daily Mail) that Santi Cazorla has been made to apologise to Tottenham fans for a picture that appeared on Twitter which showed him and former Arsenal favorite Bobby Pires, in the company of a pretty young lady. In this picture, it shows Santi apparently holding up a sign which states a well known Arsenal fans chant. This chant can be heard whenever more than one Gooner gets together.
I’m not saying that it is right to display such sentiments, and I agree that professional footballers have an obligation to act in a certain way in public, but more been made out of the likes of this by a news starved sports press than need be and I feel that there is a little bit of Arsenal bashing going on because we are top of the league.
Instance one – Santi.
Santi Cazorla and Bobby Pires are at the afters of, what I believe was, an interview on French TV. They’re relaxed and having a glass of vino or two and a chat, when they are approached by a pretty young woman who asks them to pose for a fan-shot. The boys being the professionals they are oblige. In the pic you can see that Bobby turns to look at the camera, Santi is also looking straight at the camera, his expression is bland and there’s no malicious grin on his face (as I’d have if up to mischief) and the young lady, still holding one side of the piece of paper herself, asks Santi to hold the other end. It’s over in the blink of an eye (or in this case a camera shutter) and the young lady and her friend walk away to post the pic on twitter. Classic set-up.
It should be pointed out that this picture was not posted by Santi Cazorla or Bobby Pires on their own Twitter accounts. So what is Cazorla guilty of – nothing at all, except maybe naivety and a poor knowledge of English? It’s called a honey-trap and it’s as old as the hills.
When Santi realises what’s happened (probably brought to his attention by the press) he takes to his own Twitter account and posts –
Our apologises to the Tottenham fans, we couldn’t see the paper. #alwaysfootballalwaysrespect @piresrobert7 and @19SCazorla
The press did full articles on it as if it was Cazorla’s own idea to create the scene and brought the sign in with him or created it on the spot.
In reality, it wouldn’t surprise me if the ‘Fan’ was actually a journo or a journo‘s lackey herself, setting Cazorla up.
Don’t forget scenes of the French Gutter press in Paris chasing Princess Diana on motor bikes, as she travelled on her last fatal journey. Would the British Press stoop so low, I hear you ask? – Would they heck! Are we forgetting Leveson already?
Instance two – Theo.
Having just torn his knee ligaments and while lying on the floor in agony and trying to get attention from Arsenal medical staff, Theo Walcott is subjected to the Tottenham’s fans heart-warming display of concern for the player’s well-being, as they pelt him with coins and chant to the Ambulance and medical staff, “Let him die”… As he’s placed on the stretcher, the lovely people from the white half of North London continue to pelt him and the Medical Services with coins and plastic bottles. This was reported in the Referee’s report on the game and it was reported by the medical staff too.
The FA said at the time that they were going to review the CCTV and live TV footage available and hand out life-time-bans to anyone seen to be taking part in this missile throwing. 3 weeks on and I’ve heard nothing more about further actions or life bans. Regardless of the individuals involved, why weren’t Tottenham Hotspur FC fined on the spot for failing to control their fans?
It was Theo who received the brunt of the FA’s ire. But what was he guilty of – smiling and a bit of banter.
Instance three – Jack.
Jack Wilshire, aged 22, described by the Press and Pundits alike as epitomising the hope and future of English Football. A player of passion, he’ll run all day, sweat blood and die if necessary for the cause of Arsenal and the three lions.
Jack had given interviews to the Press, telling them how happy and settled he is in his home life and that this is what keeps him grounded. He also spoke of his love for his kids and how the arrival of his little boy, Archie had changed his outlook. Big mistake, Jackie-boy, B-I-I-G-G-G mistake!
While going to take a corner, in the Game between Man City and Arsenal, Jack Wilshire was subjected to the most vile, foul and disturbing abuse and threats against, not himself, but his children and in particular his son. Jack had made the cardinal mistake of showing a vulnerable side of himself and therefore left himself open to the chants and shouts of these vile thugs.
Jack, being 22 and hurt, reacted by flipping the City fans the Bird, a one fingered salute usually accompanied by the phrase – ‘up your’s!’ or, ‘sit on it and swivel!’
In the witch-hunt that ensued in the Press and the laughable enquiry carried out by the FA following the game, Jack was scrutinised, televised and vilified.
The Press and FA said, “Well what if impressionable young children were to see it?” So to make sure the small kids didn’t‘t see it, the Press printed blown-up photos of Jack Wilshire’s hand and in particular, the offending middle finger.
Greg Dyke (aptly named, as in ‘put your finger in the’), appeared on Sky Sports News, wearing his sanctimonious puss and preached about what a bad boy Jackie was for giving those lovely young men from the north-west an obscene gesture. That he will have to be made an example of as he was going to stamp out such behavior. All the news-hounds grinned a grin of anticipation. After all – good old’’ Greg was one of their own wasn’t’t he? a media executive, journalist and broadcaster.
But to show how unsuited Mr Dyke is to his current position, he failed to seek (or take) advice, either PR or Legal, before opening his big mouth and putting his size 12 in it. For an educated man in his position, he should have known that he would prejudice the FA’s case against Jack, as he effectively pronounced him guilty before any enquiry had taken place, other than the one that was conducted in the media. By stating his view on the seriousness of the matter, he planted pre-disposed thoughts into the heads of the FA committee. Therefore Jack could not receive a fair hearing, as the outcome was predetermined and I’m surprised that the Arsenal’s lawyers did not jump all over this.
In another boo-boo, Mr Dyke commented on the amount of foreign players playing in the EPL. News-flash Mr Dyke, this can be viewed as Xenophobia, especially by the EU who will see it as a breach under EU law as a restriction on the Right to Work. Good Gads – this man is supposed to be a politician who is trying to stamp out racism and then he comes out with something like that!
The sanction that Jack was hit with, was under FIFA rule 54 –
Anyone who provokes the general public during a match will be suspended for two matches and sanctioned with a minimum ﬁne of CHF 5,000.
Provoking the general public? Really? Giving someone the finger after they‘d made vile comments about your children? The FA proved what really upstanding blokes they are!
But please explain then, why Jose Mourinho did not get a ban when he jumped into the crowd to celebrate a goal against Man City earlier in the season. From what I saw, this provoked the general public (City fans) present, yet he received no sanction?
When the FA was thumbing down through the rule book, looking to see what they could charge Jack with, did they not notice Regulation 51, which comes before 54.
If they did then please explain why the following wasn’t applied to Manchester City FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC, remembering that clubs are responsible for the behaviour of their fans?
FIFA Regulations 51 –
If, in the case of violence, it is not possible to identify the perpetrator(s), the body will sanction the club or association to which the aggressors belong.
FIFA Regulations 67 Liability for spectator conduct
1. The home association or home club is liable for improper conduct among
spectators, regardless of the question of culpable conduct or culpable
oversight, and, depending on the situation, may be ﬁned. Further sanctions
may be imposed in the case of serious disturbances.
2. The visiting association or visiting club is liable for improper conduct
among its own group of spectators, regardless of the question of culpable
conduct or culpable oversight, and, depending on the situation, may be
ﬁned. Further sanctions may be imposed in the case of serious disturbances.
Supporters occupying the away sector of a stadium are regarded as the visiting
association’s supporters, unless proven to the contrary.
3. Improper conduct includes violence towards persons or objects, letting off
incendiary devices, throwing missiles, displaying insulting or political slogans in
any form, uttering insulting words or sounds, or invading the pitch.
The threats made against Jack Wilshire and Theo Walcott is, under law, a form of violence and the clubs involved should be sanctioned under these rules. Or is it a case of one rule for Arsenal and another rule for other Clubs? The FA claims to be trying to better football – then why are they not applying the rules fairly and evenly.
If Santi Cazorla has to apologise for being set-up, Theo gets a telling off for banter, and Jack gets a two game ban a one fingered salute – I can’t wait to see what ban they give to Nic Anelka, who West Brom appear to have washed their hands of.