Football is a game of determination, of grit and of honor, played and followed by billions across the world. Football is also a game of honor, of love, of togetherness and of teamwork; there is simply no place for hate within football, and not even the tempers of longtime rivals should invoke the worst that we can see from humanity.
Yet it does, on a routine basis seemingly. Football brings out vitriol from its supporters, steeped in passion and ambition for events they cannot directly control. It can routinely bring out very tough football on the pitch; and when it does, there can sometimes be injuries, of which some appear more malevolent than they are intended in the heat of the moments.
For Jordan Pickford, the outrage at his poorly taken tackle and its largest consequence, the ACL injury to Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool, has been massive. While no sane person believes it to have been malicious by any stretch, the fans of one club have not necessarily reacted with as objective an analysis. This abuse only seems to be more pronounced since the England #1 did not face any disciplinary action on the pitch or after.
Richarlison too has been dragged by Reds supporters for his red card worthy tackle on Thiago Alcantara towards the end of the match. While both Everton players can do with some criticism, both have been outspoken in their apologies for each circumstance. And even that has not been received well by those angry, apathetic folks who are our neighbors and peers; they’ve lost perspective clearly, but that is no excuse.
Taking a Deep Breath
First of all, no player ever wants to maliciously hurt another player. When players hurt one another accidentally, they are usually struck with great remorse; they understand being in the injured player's position, and as humans who perform this sport professionally speaking, there can be few things more frustrating and scary.
So when fans blow up the twitters of these two young players, with threats and filth, both sad that their actions caused any damage or uproar, it is grotesque. No player should be receiving death threats for an injury that takes place, with no malicious intention, during the course of 90’ plus. While players get frustrated as a result, and coaches as well, we must remember as people at home, likely on the couch or performing ones job, that these individuals are also people, like we are ourselves. The only difference is that they are on television, playing a sport we all enjoy at a very high level. And so because we can watch them and the stakes are so high, their mistakes seem like the biggest of catastrophes. Yet our anger is nothing to the pain and frustration either player involved in an incident likely feels.
One feels the pain and frustration of a season perhaps being over just matches into it, while another feels a horror as well. We must understand and empathize, not look to demonize, spewing horrifying notions and phrases at people simply playing a sport together. Poor play should be criticized and I will be the first to say that neither play was particularly palatable, yet do they cross the line into criminality? Into rottenness? Absolutely not. No one playing or involved in the sport believes that, only the manic fans and trolls hold such cynical beliefs.
So everyone needs to take a deep breath and remember that the players we love and hate across the world are all just humans trying to do the best at their jobs; this includes our own two who need support during such a tough brace of confrontations. Were millions of people to send death threats and disgusting, menacing drivel to everyone who makes a mistake at their job everyday, the world would be a much less productive and beautiful experience for everyone; we can all make a difference to one another and the first step is in treating people properly, and football has always been a conduit for bringing people together regardless of backgrounds or views.