Eden Hazard may have a dream of Real Madrid, but throughout his 6.5 years at Stamford Bridge, he’s talked even more often of his love of Chelsea and Chelsea fans and how he feels an obligation to do well and to bring a little joy into our otherwise mundane daily lives. At its heart, that’s what sports is supposed to be all about, after all, no? To unite us through a shared, joyful experience, and maybe just a bit of schadenfreude when appropriate.
But there are those who seek to ruin it for the rest of us. We must not let them. They are not (proper) fans, as Hazard declared when speaking out in support of Raheem Sterling.
“They (the abusers) are called fans but for me they’re not fans. I think the proper Chelsea fans sing for Chelsea and just enjoy the game.
”I fully support Raheem and this type of racism can’t be in the stadium anymore. If he has something to say he will say it. As a player if I’m in this situation I will say something. It happens sometimes in football, not just in England but everywhere, and it needs to stop.”
-Eden Hazard; source: M.E.N.
The abusers in question have since been suspended by the club, and may face further repercussions if found guilty of racial abuse in the ongoing investigation by both Chelsea and the Metropolitan Police.
One of the four, a 60-year-old man by the name of Colin Wing has been identified as the chief abuser in the video that has been seen around the world, and he has given an interview to the Daily Mail in which he apologizes “unreservedly” and offers up a defense of using the epithet “Manc” instead of “black” when screaming f-bombs and c-words at the 24-year-old football player. Wing, who says he’s supported Chelsea for 50 years, claims that he’s not only lost his season ticket, but has lost his job as well as a result of his actions — a reminder to all that real life actions tend to have real life consequences. He also says that police have spoken to him twice but have not brought forward any charges or made any arrests. A “number of enquiries” are still ongoing however, confirmed a Met spokesperson.
But even as the specifics of this case play out, the larger, more important conversation will hopefully continue on as well. Former Liverpool player John Barnes was just one of those inspired to speak out and take up the cause started by Sterling’s Instagram post, and if you haven’t seen this interview with the BBC, you should definitely watch it.
Those fans screaming (racial) abuse at Sterling are a symptom of a disease in our society. As with all diseases, we must learn not just how to deal with the symptoms, but how to prevent and hopefully eradicate it once and for all. It won’t be an easy or a quick process, but it is a necessary one.