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
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices