Jamie Corrigan: Let's hand it to Diego Maradona for silencing cowards

The Way I See It: More and more the foulmouthed and flea-brained are ruining what's meant to be an enjoyable experience

And so the fist of God came crashing through the clouds and took out the fat oik with the big disgusting mouth in row four who always insists on standing. Thus, a glorious glow of bonhomie swept over the ground as the men, women and children proceeded to do that for which they had paid their admission. Yes, to watch football...

If only the above were true. Alas, the Almighty has rather more on his plate than ensuring that attending a sporting event nowadays doesn't have to equate to visiting a borstal where the inmates have been on the meths. Yet there were a few abusive fans in the UAE the other day who did come close to feeling, if not the fist of God, then certainly the hand of God slapping across their jaws. Of all Diego Maradona's magic moments, this would have been my very favourite.

Oh, they will say, the naughty little Argentine shouldn't have taken the law into his own infamous paws. But Maradona was sitting there as his side, Al Wasl, were losing 2-0 at Al Shabab and, close by, a section of home crowd morons were picking on his defenceless girlfriend. Yet she wasn't defenceless as Maradona reacted. As he should have reacted. He climbed into the grandstand to confront the cowards and, as cowards do, they backed down. These toerags will probably think twice about delivering their "banter" again.

All the usual stuff about the fans having the right to express their opinion is fair enough, so long as they are expressing their opinion about football. Yet just because they have handed over some hard-earned at the turnstiles, it doesn't give them the right to fling personal insults with all the nonchalance of a Scud-missile launcher buried in a shelter. The yobs wouldn't do it in the streets, and there's a good reason why. Not because they'd fear being arrested by many of the bobbies on the beat (guffaw, guffaw) but they'd be worried they might receive a slap. But at sporting events they feel protected. Why?

As seriously as it takes itself, sport is merely a small part of society, like shopping, or going to the cinema, or going to Pizza Hut, or going to church, or going to the bookies. The same rules should apply, regardless of the adrenalin which is supposedly produced, or testosterone, which, when taken with alcohol, is rumoured to have outrageous side-effects. There is no excuse for some of the vitriol being spouted, and I'm all for instant retribution.

So you are paid £100,000 a week and the clause in your contract stipulates you have to put up with everything thrown at you. Why? The wage isn't danger money, it's a payment for the sport you play. And if it isn't, what is this? A collection of bushtucker trials for sportsmen and sportswomen who must resist lashing out for fear for being evicted? To hell with that. Statements have consequences and nobody should be given a free pass just because they are in a packed arena. The very fact they are surrounded by thousands upon thousands makes the scenario impossible to police completely. So some citizen policing is enforced. It's how society works.

And the normal fan must make it go on working, because more and more the foul-mouthed and flea-brained are ruining what is meant to be an enjoyable experience. It was once just football but now you hear the mindless at rugby matches, at cricket matches, at tennis, even at golf. I was at a tournament recently where a man in the gallery shouted swear words at Lee Westwood telling him to have his teeth done. Westwood turned on his heels, pointed to his set of shiny new pearlers and laughed himself silly as the thug was led away by uniformed officials. They are easy to pick out in golf, however. Although not as easy as they once were. They used just to follow Colin Montgomerie.

Everyone gets carried away, that's the trouble. Even the sanest are wont to mutter and sing silly things. So when this false notion of hatred enters the cranium of an idiot the profanity is inevitable.

Take the Ashes series in 2005. It was the archetypal glorious summer of sport, but for many of us was marred by anti-Aussie over-the-topness. I recall interviewing Dizzy Gillespie, who was given a fearful shellacking at Old Trafford while he was fielding on the boundary. The loudest and foulest of his critics was there with his toddler. But when Gillespie approached this imbecile and asked if that was really the way to speak in front of an infant, the father called over the steward and said the fast bowler was harassing him. "So he wasn't just bringing his kid up to be a thug, but also a coward as well," said Gillespie. "Nice combination."

Where will it end? Well, when you hear thousands chanting to a player that "the baby's not yours", or you hear row upon row singing songs about air disasters, you might think this must be near the end. Surely it can't descend much further?

Suggested Topics
Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Voices
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
Sport
world cup 2014
Sport
Popes current and former won't be watching the football together
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
film
News
business
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
Sport
Germany's Andre Greipel crosses the finish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 194 kilometers (120.5 miles) with start in Arras and finish in Reims, France
tour de franceGerman champion achieves sixth Tour stage win in Reims
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
News
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial