The Arsenal official ‘no apology’ was actually inaccurate according to a Swiss Arsenal fan who spied the Insta story.
‘It’s badly translated by the way. The German version on his insta sounds more like an apology. He said “that was not my intention and I am sorry”. Not “I’m sorry if that’s what people thought” which is indeed not apologising…’
I think it’s important to fairly note, that after 3 days, Xhaka finally apologised, sort of.
Before I crack into this, just from a personal perspective, I understand what it’s like to have people hate you on the internet. If you’re well-liked in real life, but most people think you’re a massive whopper online, it’s quite hard to deal with the disconnect. It’s also mentally frying when you’re saying things the masses violently disagree with… logging onto, ‘cunt’, ‘attention seeker’, ‘liar’, ‘scum’ and ‘dog pervert’ is not fun.
I know what it feels like, because I’ve had it on and off for 13 years. I even had someone throw a bottle at me in a pub once when I was with Matt Scott.
So please, before I start dissecting this, understand this comes from a position of kind-of-experience, even if it’s not at the same volume as an actual famous person.
Social media is a cesspit. The internet took away hierarchy of opinion. Every single person in the world can have a view and if it gains enough traction, it holds a weird equal weight online regardless of who posts it. This is not real life. If a homeless person throws dogs mess at someone in the park, it’s not news. Someone of the equivalent level throws a dog shit comment and it can become news and hold authority because there’s no context to who is saying it. This is why disinformation online is so easy.
Back in the day, it was hard to access famous people, so superstars didn’t really feel the heat of the day to day dog shit throwers. That is not the case now.
It doesn’t matter how many times you complain that ‘the abusers should be held accountable’, the simple fact of the internet is that accountability is not achievable because of the scale of the issue. Abuse is here to stay. It’ll never go. Even if we had the powers to police it, in the grand scheme of local London issues, I think I’d prefer the police focus on real issues like knife crime and such.
The above commentary does not mean I am condoning abuse, far from it, I’m just saying it’s an immovable reality.
So this was Xhaka’s response:
“My feeling of not being understood by fans, and repeated abusive comments at matches and in social media over the last weeks and months have hurt me deeply. People have said things like ‘We will break your legs’, ‘Kill your wife’ and ‘Wish that your daughter gets cancer’. That has stirred me up and I reached boiling point when I felt the rejection in the stadium on Sunday.
“In this situation I let myself get carried away and reacted in a way that disrespected the group of fans that support our club, our team and myself with positive energy. That has not been my intention and I’m sorry if that’s what people thought. My wish is to get back to a place of mutual respect, remembering why we fell in love with this game in the first place. Let’s move forward positively together.”
There are two issues at play here.
- Arsenal fans booed and sarcastically jeered him after he walked off slowly when we were chasing a game. Booing, as YankeeGunner on Twitter pointed out, is part of the game. It is not abuse. Sure, it’s not pleasant, but let’s not roll boos in with wishing cancer on children.
- The internet is not real, nor is it tightly linked to fans that go to the ground. No one knows the people that made those comments, no one would condone them in the ground, no one even knows if the fans were linked to Arsenal.
Xhaka showed extremely bad judgement when he gesticulated to the fans last week. He is supposed to lead by example and for the 3rd time this season he let his guard down (‘we were scared + ‘it was the strikers’), he caved to his feelings and he told the fans to fuck off.
He should have apologised, he should have blamed being tired on the stress of a difficult newborn and he should have asked for forgiveness even if he didn’t mean it. Simple. We’d have all forgiven him.
The two comments he pulled out reminded me of being back at school.
‘Damian, I fucked your mum last night’
‘My mum’s dead. Died in a helicopter crash’
Xhaka found the two worst comments and spun a narrative from them. He went straight for the victim card. How can you knock a man that’s had his kids spoken about like that? It shut down rational conversation and diverted attention to the scourge of dim people online.
I can’t abide by that. It’s the biggest shirk of responsibility going. A cowardly move.
I have two points on this.
People prone to stress complaining about the internet making them sad is an actual trend.
Here’s an idea. Turn off the comments to the general public. I did that on my Twitter last year and it stopped me feeling like my phone was a giant ball of molten hell in my pocket. What you can’t read doesn’t hurt you. Surround yourself with people that love you (Yo Twitter/LG fam, I literally love you) and it immediately makes you feel better.
If you REALLY can’t handle the abuse, delete the apps. Take them off your phone. Give the access codes to someone else. SUPER easy when you’re a rock star footballer. Most of them have agencies to take care of their feeds so the STARS don’t have to deal with it and can spend their time being RICH.
Another point that people need to remember here. PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALLERS ARE NOT NORMAL. Being in the top 1% of humans in the world comes with perks and not-so-much-perks. Huge money, fame, nice seats in Nandos… are the perks. The not-so-much-perks are pretty easy to deal with, don’t go on social media, don’t leave the game on the train, and don’t send 🍆 pics to models if you’re married.
As Tim Payton, expert in sports PR said yesterday:
‘Correct Pete. Of course it’s scumbags doing it. But professional athletes have to manage their lives to perform well. That includes insulating themselves from this sort of abuse. It’s literally day 1 of personal development/media training for sports people.’
People from the club have told me that the players are trained not to look at it, absolute basics. Some do, obviously, but as I said earlier, it’s often the media team doing it for them.
Toughen up, you are the captain of the club, there are no excuses
A lot of people are taking deep offence to the notion that you can ask someone to be tough in 2019.
This is elite sport. The captain is a warrior position. If you can be rattled by twats on the internet, lose your cool at the home fans, then take three days to drop a half-apology littered with excuses, are you really captain material?
People lose their cool, that’s life. Apologise fast, own up, show the team that you’re fallible but brave enough to own it.
Everyone takes abuse personally, it’s not nice, but it’s part of fame. If it stresses you out, take action and make changes to your habits that allow you to see it. Abuse has always been part of been part and parcel of leadership, the greatest absorb it like a lightning rod, the meek cave.
Rapinoe went against the President and hard right of America. She didn’t fade. She used it to her advantage. She channelled the rage of ugly America and raised the women’s game to new levels and brought the World Cup back home to America. Her bravery and leadership single-handedly landed her ENTIRE team a raise.
Unreal. She never caved. She never wavered. She absolutely owned it… and let’s be honest, she dealt with far worse because she was a woman.
That’s leadership. That’s inspirational. That’s being accountable.
That’s all I’ve got. Time to move on for the fans. The apology was there, I’m just not sure the circumstances were befitting of a leader and I’m not sure the substance showed he understood the gravity of his petulant actions. I don’t think he’s a leader, but that’s not my decision to make.
Tell me, what do you think? Don’t you dare call me a dog pervert…
P.S. Listen to my Pod with Matt on leadership.