Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere marked Sunday’s FA Cup celebration parade by taunting North London rivals Tottenham (above), an episode that led to a public apology Monday and some measure of grumbling about poor sportsmanship. In the view of the Guardian’s Toby Moses, such protests are a little over the top (“having spent years hearing from all and sundry about the crying shame that all the characters have gone out of the sport, and how media training is taking the personality out of football, it seems a bit rich to be greeted with a sea of frothing disapproval at a few fruity words”).
The stupid thing about all of the fuss is that it’s unlikely Tottenham fans would take any great offence. They get at least 180 minutes a season to hurl whatever abuse (within the realms of the law) they choose at Wilshere on the pitch. He takes it. Nobody kicks up a fuss. I’m sure they can take a little back. And if not, well then perhaps football fans need to take a good long look at themselves and ask what it is they really want. Do they really appreciate the bland platitudes that are usually to be found spilling from footballers’ mouths, or would they actually prefer someone who may say something worth listening to?
And that’s not to say what Wilshere was coming out with contained any fascinating gems. But a culture which castigates a bit of harmless teasing – with some football-appropriate swearing thrown in for good measure – is surely one which makes it impossible for any player to risk saying anything worth taking an interest in. It’s a culture created by an oversensitive media, and perhaps public too, that is all too ready to make a mountain out of a molehill, leaving little if any space for anything to be said that might upset.