As the old saying goes – what goes around comes around – and if you’re a stickler for karma or a particularly aggressive Tottenham Hotspur fan, then you might say Theo Walcott’s World Cup woe is pretty deserved. The Arsenal winger, 24, enraged Tottenham Hotspur fans last weekend, making a cheeky ‘2-0’ gesture during the Gunners’ FA-Cup victory over Spurs.
He was duly pelted with coins, plastic bottles and whatever else the away fans could get hold of, a punishment that the FA, who did not discipline Walcott for his actions, felt was sufficient enough to teach the player a lesson. The fates, however, had other ideas. The knee injury for which Walcott was being stretchered off at the time has since ruled him out of this summer’s world cup, and a quick scan of Twitter reveals that some less nationalistic Spurs fans are quite pleased.
So was Walcott’s behaviour simply harmless banter or childish unprofessionalism? Cue the mini debate on Match of the Day and heated talkSport phone in. It might be page filler for a few newspapers this week, but really that’s where it should end.
Sadly, that’s not been the case. In response to some Spurs’ fans teasing of Walcott’s injury, a shameless minority of Arsenal fans have responded with anti-Semitism.
Both sides, surely are guilty of overreacting – Spurs fans shouldn’t have thrown coins and of course, those few Arsenal fans should never have made these awful jokes in bad taste.
But what does this say generally about ‘banter’ at a football ground? The problem when players try to get too involved, is that it raises the stakes. Insults are more high profile and subsequently snowball. Walcott can't possibly have hoped for any of this to happen, but maybe now he’ll learn: when it comes to banter, leave it to the terraces.
Spurs fans celebrates on Twitter as Arsenal’s Theo Walcott is ruled out for six months pic.twitter.com/XgiYptDtDX& MakeUsDream (@MakeUsDream1) January 7, 2014
I am not having it for one second that any Spurs fan is guilty of throwing coins at Theo Walcott... A jew wouldnt ever throw money away.; Life & Time Of Essai (@EsLanCip) January 4, 2014
Just read that the Spurs fans were throwing coins at Walcott. I wouldn't be surprise if Daniel Levy went and picked up the coins. #Jew—p Scott Styles (@scott_styles_) January 5, 2014
Another Twitter low from a football "fan" pic.twitter.com/9hAOMel0BQ; Rob Harris (@RobHarris) January 6, 2014