Sports letter: Celebration has its place

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The Independent Online
Sir: The Independent contained a report (20 April) by Glenn Moore about England's bid to host the World Cup in 2006 in which he calls Sir Bobby Charlton's remark about wanting to run on the pitch after the Manchester United-Arsenal cup replay a faux pas.

In the context of the bid, it may have been unwise, but I think it was an honest and valid expression of how we all felt. I listened to the match on radio and then watched the late-night highlights on terrestrial TV. I am a neutral (a Tottenham supporter who admires the current Manchester United and Arsenal sides) but I was completely caught up in the match. The newspapers the next day were full of it, especially Giggs' marvellous match-winning goal. Given that the match had generated so much excitement, it hardly seems wrong that the fans there wanted to show their feelings the way they did.

Sir Bobby's later comment that " we don't want to see fans on the pitch" may have been more politically correct, but it perpetuates the error that the fans are an unfortunate nuisance who need to be kept in their place. Their place seems to be at the turnstiles meekly shelling out their cash or in front of a TV screen providing a captive audience for advertisers.

Bobby Charlton's first comment expressed the feelings of all true lovers of the game. Celebration is an important part of any sport and more should be done to find ways to accommodate the natural expression of feelings after such powerful events.

STEPHEN FORES

Plaistow

London

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