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05th Jun 2017

COMMENT: The Sun can piss right off with sick attempts to bring Arsenal into London terror attack

Absolutely no need for this headline

Conan Doherty

Whinging about Arsene Wenger is supposed to be an escape from all of this nonsense.

Pretending like the Arsenal manager’s tactics and transfer policy actually matter is what football is all about. You’re supposed to get wrapped up in this fantasy world because it’s a safe place to take out your life’s frustrations and even experience the highest highs safe in the knowledge that you can walk away from it at any time.

It’s only a game really, this football business, but it’s the best of games because we make it real life and the sad reality of it all is that it’s a lot better and makes a lot more sense than the actual real world does.

Sometimes the lines get skewed. The rules that apply to the dimension of football spill over into everyday life but you’d sober up pretty quickly when you punch a desk or kick over a chair in anger in an office full of normal people drinking coffee at their computers pulling a face that suggests, for another morning at least, you’re living in their world again.

Then, it works in a different way. A sick way. People try to feed off the interest, the emotion, the anger even that exists so raw in football and they try to couple that with murder – real life shit – just to sell a newspaper or two extra and just to spread paranoia and fear.

You can only assume that’s what the thinking was behind The Sun’s God-awful headline on Monday morning.

What the hell is this?

Before you shrug your shoulders and try to defend it as facts or whatever else, ask yourself a few questions:

  • What make of jeans is this man wearing?
  • What beard-trimmer did he use?
  • When did you last see or need a headline – never mind a story – describing what sort of clothes a terrorist was wearing when there’s a picture of him there for all to see?
  • Why would it even matter if he was an Arsenal season ticket holder?

The piece, written by Tom Wells and Mike Sullivan, leads with a first paragraph that’s presumably an attempt at scaremongering. Whip up the fear, that’ll get them engaged.

“A home-grown Jihadi in an Arsenal shirt brought terror and murder to the streets of London,” it reads.

The piece is about this man being radicalised in the UK. The Arsenal shirt? That’s just a beautiful coincidence in a twisted way of thinking.

You see, it actually has nothing to do with the story – but, by Jesus, it fuels it. Arsenal fans are some of the most passionate in England. Football fans are everyday folk like me and you. Nowhere is safe, nobody is to be trusted – that’s basically all you can take from a story that leads with what is an inconsequential detail.

It says he’s a former Underground and KFC worker but those headlines don’t spread like an Arsenal jersey does.

He might’ve been a fan of House of Cards for all we know but how could you not use the fever and frenzy and evocative and scary thought of thousands of people sitting together every week in football? It was a deliberate tactic because the truth is whatever TV shows these “home-grown” terrorists might’ve binge-watched on a Monday night is just as relevant to what shirt one of them was wearing on a Saturday night.

What’s the purpose of it? Is it up to the good Gooners to root the bad apples out of their supporters’ clubs? Is it up to everyone else to now live in distrust of anyone? Was this man Wenger In or Wenger Out?

Who gives a fuck?

It’s not relevant, it’s not even close to mattering. But, yet again, another football club and its fans have been dragged into a headline when people have died and they’ve had nothing to do with it.

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Arsenal,The Sun