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Russell Berrisford

Russell Berrisford

Russell’s support of Derby County eventually led him to leave the country. He has lived in Canada since 2007 and currently writes about soccer for The Vancouver Sun.


The Revisionist Tendency of the Soccer Fan

Written by on February 24, 2012 | 5 Comments »
Posted in General

To make it through a single season, let alone a lifetime, as a soccer fan requires a level of revisionist thinking that would make even Joseph Stalin blush.

That “must win” game that your team lost? It wasn’t “must win” at all. It’s the next one that will decide the season.

That clear handball that your central defender committed in the penalty area? Ball to hand at worst, and looked at from some angles it maybe even have hit his shoulder.

Soccer fans can swiftly reverse opinions that they have held for years as they happily shout abuse at a returning player that they once revered.

Or they can revise it on the fly as a forward that they have been abusing all game thumps a header into the top corner and allows them to turn to tell their mates that they never doubted him for a second.

So if revisionism is the default setting for fans then perhaps the events of this season are more understandable.

Nobody wants to go over the Suarez-Evra case again except, it seems, Liverpool fans who can’t seem to stop themselves from picking at the scab to see if it has healed only to see a little bit more pus come oozing out.

As that United-Liverpool game was still being played some fans were tweeting a link to a video that “proved” that it was Evra who refused the handshake and not Suarez.

Once the Uruguayan admitted that it was indeed he who had declined some still claimed that Evra had been half-hearted in his intentions thus mitigating the guilt that Suarez bore.

It’s not just Liverpool fans though.

At the start of the season some Arsenal supporters were calling for Wenger to be fired (more than a few were hoping that Owen Coyle could step in to fill the role although I suspect that they will deny it now) then the Gunners gradually climbed the table and “Arsene knows” became the more popular mantra.

The 4-0 defeat to Milan has switched the mood again and Wenger is once more seen as a burden to the club rather than a blessing.

When Wayne Rooney was rumoured to be moving to Manchester City there were death threats from United fans who now cheer his newly coiffed hair to the rafters, and City fans themselves have probably gone through enough moral pirouettes over Carlos Tevez to have twisted themselves into the turf at whatever name their stadium is currently being paid to promote.

The point is that we are all far too quick see this kind of ethical shenanigans in others and far too slow to recognize it in ourselves and, given the parlous state of morality within the game, which of us could actually judge our favoured team with an honest heart and still be enamoured with them?

Love may be blind but the love of a football team often requires us to be both blind and stupid, and we all seem able to rise to that challenge with frightening regularity.

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5 responses to “The Revisionist Tendency of the Soccer Fan”

  1. Ed Gomes says:

    Great piece. Fans, myself included, tend to think their heros/clubs can do no wrong and if things go wrong it’s someone else’s fault or that it could all be fixed quickly. The real world, which includes the football world, isn’t so easy.
    Yes Arsenal should have overspent and who cares about complains of FFP rules being ignored, as long as you win.
    “Just Win Baby” has been the Oakland Raiders mantra, but you can attribute it to any football fans mentality. We all want the beautiful game, but if Silverware comes playing ugly we are a gritty tough team, and all is well.

    Racism gets a lot of attention and in my belief the definition of said word should be expanded to include more than just several slurs. Sadly the few that ruin it for the many have actually seemed to grow in size. The mob mentality is once again becoming more prelevant in the sports world. It’s the bad economic times that has everyone on edge and angry, or is that just the latest excuse.
    There will always be idiots that cause mayhem, but what has become a troubling state for me is the clubs reactions to horrific behavior. Instead of condemning the fans behavior, clubs/presidents provide excuses for he fans and actually mention the dedication and fire of the fans. It’s ridiculous and shameful to let such behavior go unpunished. Lately in Portugal, Sporting fans set fire to Benfica’s stadium, yet the president came out and defended their loyalty, passion and fire for the club. In Porto video footage shows racist shants by fans towards City players yet the president denies it and says how great and loyal his fans are. Really?
    I have always said that “dark matches” should be imposed more freely. Let clubs start missing out on ticket receipts and tv revenue. Yes I too think the “dark match” should also be blacked out on tv. Would presidents then be so keen in letting his fans off the hook? Would fans stand up against the hoodlums if they knew they were going to miss out on a CL/Europa/League match altogether? Will UEFA/FIFA be willing to miss out on tv revenue?

    Yes fans, myself included, are crazy. But I like to think that most are more realistic and could see their clubs faults and have the right perspective. And by the way, it’s the same in every sport. Everyday on WFAN you can hear a fan ask for a crazy trade an snot understand why the other team would not make it. Kind of like saying lets buy the whole Barca squad and wonder why they would say no.

  2. Gus Keri says:


    “Nobody wants to go over the Suarez-Evra case again except, it seems, Liverpool fans who can’t seem to stop themselves from picking at the scab to see if it has healed only to see a little bit more pus come oozing out.”

    How about those non-Liverpool fans, such as yourself, who keep doing just that? Not only are you picking at the scab, but also, you are sticking your fingers inside that wound and causing as much pain as possible for those fans.

    Or maybe you mean well and only trying to generate as much hits to your article as possible.

    I will indulge you on that one.

    Have you reviewed that film very carefully? I am sure you have watched many other handshakes before.

    Now, answer this question:

    How often do you see a player drop his arm in between the handshakes? Imagine if a player do that between every two handshakes. He will be ready immediately for substitution from exhaustion.

    It was clear from the film that Evra dropped his arm just before Suarez’s handshake. There are two possibilities for that. Either Evra didn’t intend to shake Suarez’s hand or he wanted Suarez to initiate the handshake.
    I am not going to argue why he did so and what was his real intention and if it was right or wrong.

    Suarez, on the other hand, kept his arm extended throughout. If he didn’t want to shake hand, he would have dropped it.

    Nonetheless, Suarez’s hand movement was kind of mechanical. He just passed his hand across hoping (or hoping not) to hit Ever’s hand.

    Knowing that Suarez was forced to shake hands by his club, this reaction was not unexpected.

    The theatrical act that Evra performed to the camera afterward told you that there was something fishy there.

    Now to the point of “revisionists”:

    I think you should leave Liverpool fans out of it. They are the most loyal fans ever. They follow their players years after they leave the club. And only those who stab the club in the back get the rotten tomato.

    Suarez will always be a painful reminder of the long-standing prejudice against the Liverpool club. Every time I read an article and it refer to him, unjustly, as “the player who racially abused” his opponent, it brings back a lot of hard feeling.

    In Suarez, I will only see a scapegoat who was chosen by the people in power to start a campaign to heal a nation that is plagued by a disease called racism.

  3. Alan says:

    Gus, dude, give it a rest. You’re so far in the wrong and what makes it worse is that either you can’t see that fact or you refuse to. And the fact you’ve turned this into a conspiracy is simply amazing, appalling and yet kind of sadly amusing.

  4. Gus Keri says:


    I gave it a rest last week and I decided not to talk about it again, but obviously not every one did.

    I was one of those Liverpool fans who tweeted that video link, the one Russell was talking about. That is why I was offended.

    I had to defend myself and the other Liverpool fans.

    I hope all people will drop this issue for good.
    I truely don’t want to talk about it any more.

  5. Soccerlogical says:

    re: Evra vs Suarez

    I think we all agree that Evra isn’t some hapless fool, as evidenced from his post match celebrations.
    We all know that Evra also led a players revolt in the WC.

    Evra reacted angrily to claims from Lilian Thuram that he should not play for France again after his actions in the WC.

    Evra’s reply was “Walking round with books on slavery in glasses and a hat does not turn you into Malcolm X,’ he responded.” LOL

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