Football drives men to do crazy things. Like cry at the world cup.
Or support rapists. Or support child abusers.
Lots of people have been somewhere between bemused and horrified at the amount of people supporting both Ched Evans and Adam Johnson this week.
The first was convicted of rape. The second was convicted of child sexual abuse.
They both play football.
That is where *some* football fans and sensible morals part company. The kind of men who would possibly beat up a man in the street that they thought was a "nonce" will happily begin bartering the correct age that a girl can "really" count as a child who has been abused. They offer numbers. 2, 4. 6, 8. Or find it funny that a footballer cannot put his penis in a girl without asking her. Or joke about what the footballer has done to the child or the woman. They deny that the woman was human. She is just a "slag" or a "whore". Words that dehumanise and other them.
Football is small. No really boys. It is. You've been sold a lie. You do not need it to exist. Your world is really small and not everyone shares it. Or wants to. Many men and women manage to keep breathing and working and laughing and living without it. They do not need it to form their sense of identity. They do not need it to bond normally with other people. They do not need to face towards it in a pub at all times. Or in their living rooms on giant screens. They read books. Cycle. Walk. Talk to each other. They go to different cities for pure shits and giggles. They don't need a shirt to feel close to other people. They wear all sorts of crazy shirts that simply clothe their bodies from the elements. It is ok to like football too though. It is brilliant if you enjoy the whole experience of watching that sport. I just wish that men, in particular, could love the sport and also love and respect women. Some men manage this perfectly well. Learn from them. Those men instantly turned from Evans and Johnson. They keep their moral core and their love of a goal.
I used to enjoy football. I used to attend football matches. I grew up with football talk in the house at all times and had a bedroom in sniffing distance of a ground. I know the offside rule and could spot it from the back of a crowded pub with half a clear view. I have been to matches in other countries to see how they do it. I knew the names of lots of players just like you men do.
I don't like football any more. I could no longer go to a game. The last 2 years has killed football for me.
Here is why.
The abuse that I have seen levelled at rape victims and those who support them has done more than just sicken me. It has made me immune to abuse. People are constantly asking "Why though? Why are they supporting a rapist? Why are they supporting a child abuser? I don't understand!"
They are questioning why men like this, think like this...
Or this boy who felt no need to ask for consent to have sex with a woman....
Or this one that just wanted me raped and well.......any woman who drinks deserves to be raped he thinks....
I'm guessing that normally you can pass these men at work, or at the bus stop or in the supermarket and they will smile at you. They may have smiled at me. If anyone touched their wife or girlfriend or sister they would be the first to ball up fists and threaten to bring back hanging single-handedly. They know that rape is a heinous crime. Normally. They know that grooming children for sex is wrong. Normally. They know that screaming rape and death threats at women they don't know is wrong. Normally. Just not now. Not when "our boy" is involved. Or the success of "our team" is at stake.
The thought that their hero may be a villain is too hard to contemplate as they must then shift their loyalty. When a family rapist is uncovered, that can be hard for a family to accept. The football family seems to be worse. The thought that he is not different to any other rapist just because he is part of their football "family" is too much to bear. Football and the players of their chosen team are like a drug they need. They cannot let it go. I wonder. If that footballer asked "May I rape your bird?" would they say yes, no, punch him or call the police? I'd like to say I know. But I don't. Have they got specific women in mind that it is ok for footballers to do this to? Are they different to their women? I've asked this before.
You cannot keep your heroes just because they are your heroes. Manhattan is one of my all-time favourite movies. Woody Allen was one of my favourite directors. I will never watch a movie of his again. He is a child abuser.
Step away from these criminal footballers. They are no longer your heroes. They have let you down too. There will be other footballers for you. Your heroes were false. Get new ones.
You only get the women in your life once. Look out for all women. Those women are real. Protect them from villains like your fallen heroes.