Himself was in the pub last night. In flying form. Back from a soccer match in Dalymount between Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers. And his beloved Rovers lost. He said he was going to report the FAI to the Gardai. And to UEFA and FIFA. For failing to stamp out Racism. He claimed that the abuse and intimidation of the Referee was what lost Rovers the match.
The men in black with their little whistles and their little cards in their back pockets were all that stood between civilisation and chaos. And what do they get for their heroic efforts? Nothing but abuse. And what is the FAI doing about it? Nothing.
Oh he was in flying form alright. The nub of the problem was the chanting of the fans. He claimed it contravened everything the soccer authorities said they opposed in their multiple campaigns – Fair Play, Respect, Stamp out Racism, No to Racism, and what have you. You would think these campaigns never made it across to Ireland. But the Irish are quick enough to complain about the Scottish and Rangers fans chanting the Famine Song.
What Himself heard in Dalymount made the Famine Song sound like a sentimental ditty. Abuse on the basis of sexual orientation, that’s what it was. And no one was raising a whisper in protest. No, but Himself was going to start the campaign, There and then. In the pub. Last night. Historic moment.
He took out his phone, slapped it on the counter, and played what he had recorded. Evidence. You could hear the sounds of the match, the cheering, the oohing, the aahing, the shouts of indignation, then the clear chant:
Referee, you’re a wanker, you’re a wanker,
Referee, you’re a wanker, you’re a wanker.
Now, he challenged us, is that not abuse on the basis of sexual orientation?
Mmm. We pondered.
Look at it this way, he said: it’s against the rules to abuse someone on the basis of his skin-colour, his race, his religion. Right? It’s against the rules to slag him for being gay, or transsexual, or a cross-dresser. So why should there always be open season on wankers? If sexual preferences are to be kept out of the arena, why are wankers not given the protection of the law like everyone else? And why should the referee’s sexual orientation be flaunted in an effort to humiliate and intimidate him?
You’re dead right, said the Cynic. Wankers have suffered enough in recent years. Time was when they were discreetly shielded by rhyming slang, and referred to as ‘bankers’. Now it’s vice versa, and the bankers are shielded by the same rhyming slang. The poor wankers are doubly humiliated by that association. I’m with you, said he.
The Writer pretended to take a long draught from his pint, but whispered to me from behind his raised glass: with the Cynic behind you, you’d want to watch your back.
But Himself is going to go hell for leather for the cause. Nothing less than having the FAI cited for Racism will do him. He won’t stop, and he won’t be satisfied, until referees are free to execute their duties without the threat of their private lives being flaunted to influence their decisions.