If Arsene Wenger watched Match of the Day on Saturday night he is entitled to feel offended.
That afternoon Arsenal had drawn 1-1 at Stoke City and the Frenchman was, once again, the target of vile chants with thousands of people bellowing “paedophile” and “French twat” at him.
It was a fractious afternoon at the Britannia with the Stoke fans also booing Aaron Ramsey who two years ago had his leg broken in two places by Ryan Shawcross.
Ramsey sarcastically applauded the home supporters as he was substituted. We can only assume the double fracture hurt more.
After the game Stoke manager Tony Pulis was asked about the obscene chanting.
“It is very difficult for us all, I go to grounds and get abused, you have to accept it as a manager. Should you accept it? I don’t know you should speak to the police….”
Wenger’s take was;
“My response is always to ignore what they say. I have had to deal with this for years but one day football will have to tackle this problem.
“If you want to stop that, it’s easy to stop. You can isolate every single face.”
Well, here is one face the police can isolate.
Dominic Billings is a teenage Stoke City season ticket holder who lives in the south of England. He attended the game against Arsenal with his father and younger brother and then took to Twitter (@dombillings) to boast about calling Wenger a paedophile.
Several Arsenal fans, including this one, challenged him about his behaviour. His replies were abusive, inarticulate and, once he realised the trouble he could be in, deleted.
How difficult would it be for Staffordshire police to ask Stoke City football club where Billings sits, review the close circuit television coverage and then, if there is evidence of indecent and/or racialist chanting, prosecute him under the Football (Offences and Disorder) Act 1999?
Stoke City fans are by no means the only ones guilty of disgusting and illegal behaviour. Every club, including Arsenal, has a minority who think a ticket to the game gives them the right to behave as they please.
In December James Lawton of the Independent wrote about ‘this zombie partisanship’ and asked,
“..who is there with a reasonably balanced set of adult responses who is not sickened by the steady growth of tribal hatred in our football grounds?”
On MOTD the booing of Aaron Ramsey was discussed and condemned but there was no mention of the offensive chanting.
Given what Wenger had endured that afternoon it was crass of presenter Gary Lineker to then end the programme by mimicking the Arsenal’s manager exasperated arm waving.
It has never been quite the same since Des Lynam left.