I Hate Liverpool was meant to launch on the heels of a positive result that would spark some kind of optimism for the team. I expected Friday’s FA Cup win over Oldham to be that spark, and as a result that helped Liverpool to advance in the competition, it was just that. Everything went as expected: Liverpool’s Premiership juggernaut dismantled Oldham’s inferior League One squad. But then the rumours surfaced of a Liverpool fan racially abusing Oldham’s Tom Adeyemi. I thought to myself, “What’s wrong with Liverpool?”
What’s wrong with Liverpool fans who assume that they have the right to act with genuine hate toward the athletes they’ve paid to watch play? Visiting team or not, these players aren’t the gladiators of Roman times, they’re talented, high-level athletes who can hear the fans in the stands. Assuming for a moment that racist abuse were even vaguely tolerated (and let’s be fair, it is), what’s wrong with Liverpool fans that they can’t even think, especially in the wake of the Luis Suarez scandal, to keep their casual vitriol to themselves? What’s wrong with Liverpool fans, especially in the year of London’s Olympic Games, that they can’t see that racism these days is, at best, extremely tacky? Sure, we know that if you’re a Liverpool fan you’ll never walk alone, but hurling racist invective at the opposing team’s players is about as divisive as it gets.
It took zero conscience and a half decent PR professional for Liverpool to rattle off platitudes related to the club’s pride in their ethnically diverse fan base and to express regret over the actions of an isolated fan. Those are absolute must-do actions. What the club’s ownership- not its board, or its communications staff, or Kenny Dalglish- must do right now is show leadership in front of its fans, the Football League and the world of football. Show us that you’re outraged over Suarez’s treatment at his FA tribunal. And show your supporters some respect, not by telling us that the fan that abused a visiting player is banned for life, or how you plan to control this type of behaviour in future, but by acknowledging the reality that this type of behaviour is impossible to control.
Instead of hiding in the quiet of the cozy New England winter, speak up and call out the club’s front office for acting defensively rather than proactively in recent weeks. The same goes for you, LeBron. It’s fine to hand out headphones after training to try to connect with the team, but don’t forget that a fan of your new investment was so wrapped up in a runaway win that he decided it was fine to call an opposing player a black bastard. If you’re at all interested, and I suspect that you aren’t, he was effectively calling you the same.
The fan in question was arrested, which is as it should be, and that’s fine. But that’s not the end of it. Fenway and LeBron, you need to do better. Your new club needs you. Liverpool is in a different kind of trouble than a relegation battle. Its reputation is falling apart rather quickly, and no one seems to be doing much to stop it other than calling other people names.