Yes, yes, I know using the word “classy” is un-progressive of me. I’m re-claiming it, however. On behalf of… uh, Ukrainian peasants everywhere. That’s right.
After Jose Mourinho left Chelsea, I decided to take a break from blogging about the Premiership. The fact that the new boss, Avram Grant, has received anti-Jewish death threats, not to mention the rape and death threats against his wife, has brought me out of my torpor.
What is there to say?
I suppose this incident can be written off with the usual “but what can you expect, these lads are football fans, that’s what football fans do, don’t watch football if you’re going to be upset.” It’s the same argument that was used against me when I began pointing out to people that the streets of Kiev were becoming more and more unsafe for racial minorities, Jewish men in yarmulkes, and anyone else who might somehow stand out: “but what can you expect, these are thugs, just don’t walk in the bad neighbourhoods if you feel threatened.” Right-o. Except, of course, the attacks were fast-becoming part of mainstream life in the capital.
Similarly, this episode with Avram Grant is part of mainstream football life. Racism and other nasty stuff there, it’s a problem, and being complacent about it isn’t going to do the sport, or anyone at all, any favours. Was it just a bunch of dumb kids who sent that stuff in? Probably. But those kids are going to grown into brawny adults one day. The sort of people whose eyes you try to avoid on the tube, lest they grab you by the collar and spit in your face.
I hope the cops catch them, and I hope they learn a lesson, if they are capable of learning it. Look, we can discuss Grant’s leadership, we can discuss how he was hired, we can discuss the ideological make-up of many Chelsea fans, and we can discuss many things besides, but this? Vile and unacceptable.
I don’t think the people who sent that package can, or should, be described as fans of football. A fan does not turn a sport into a venue for his particular brand of idiotic bigotry. A fan does not want wish to become an embarrassment to the very sport he or she professes to love.