Tag Archives: Adebayor

A message from Kampala to whoever thought up the ‘Adebayor Chant’

With a cold beer in hand I sit down on a plastic chair behind rows of chattering men. Glancing around, I see that almost everyone is wearing an Arsenal shirt - not an unusual sight in Uganda. The sun is setting and I think to myself I that I cannot imagine anywhere I’d rather be watching this north London Derby, a thought that would soon disappear.

I sit taking sips of beer and listening as people chat noisily in Luganda. With the exception of a few words I struggle to make out what people were saying so I happily sit back and let the atmosphere wash over me. The big screen is on and sit half watching the match build up and half watching the people around me chat and laugh.

I am deep in thought about how different watching football in Kampala is compared to my old haunt of the Dog Star in Brixton. So deep in fact that I don’t notice when six guys sharply turn around and look me up and down.

All six of them look straight at me. A few seconds later one of them asked, “What’s the Adebayor chant?”

I feel a prick of panic on the back of my neck. We were sitting just down the road from where the 2010 World Cup terrorist attacks took place and I had no idea why these guys were asking me.

The words of the chant run though my head as I try to buy myself time.

Adebayor, Adebayoooooooooor, your dad washes elephants, and your mums a whore.
It should have been you, it should have been you, killed in Angola, it should have been you

I think to myself how fucking unacceptable it is. I think about how, not for the first time, I am complicit in some football fans outrageous actions. Mostly though I think, how the fuck am I supposed to explain what ‘the Adebayor chant’ is in this situation?

Maybe spotting my discomfort, one of the guys piped up with, “Is it true that they sing about the Togo shootings?”

I lamely offer a “yeah” in response. This was getting beyond awkward.

The guys muttered a few words to each other before one asked, “Why?”

Why? Like why do British football fans think it’s acceptable to sing about a terrorist attack that resulted in one of Adebayor’s friends bleeding in his arms? Like why do they feel it is OK to throw in crass racist stereotypes as a prelude to such fucking outrageous comments? Or perhaps just why do so many fans in the stands join in?

Pathetically I muttered into my beer, “I don’t know”.  The guys turned away and went back to pre-match build up. There was no bitterness in the whole exchange but it left me thinking.

One thing I pondered as I moved onto a second and third beer was how would have one of the guys who had thought up that chant have responded if they were in my situation? Would they have tried to justify their crass racism and insensitivity to terrorist atrocities or would they have sheepishly apologised?

I imagined in my mind’s eye the stereotype of a classic football thug almost spitting, “It’s just a bit of fun”.  In all likelihood though, the guy probably looked just like me, young, male and football mad.

As I walked home that evening I was deep in thought. Am I responsible in any way for what happens on the terraces in the UK? Should I have apologised, criticised or critiqued the chant? In retrospect though I was predominantly feeling pissed off that these fucking morons who come up with these chants hold the power to dictate how my evening, thousands of miles away goes.

I have nothing to do with these idiots but to many people we are one of the same.

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Filed under Football, Social comment, Uganda, War

“What was chanted at Emmanuel was disgusting” Harry Redknapp

This post was originally published in ‘In Off the Bar’

Arsenal and Tottenham have released a joint statement after the unacceptable chanting from fans during the North London derby on Sunday.

It is refreshing to see two clubs use this opportunity to highlight the ‘unacceptable behaviour’ rather than petty point scoring.

The statement in part read:

“Both clubs were extremely disappointed to hear the chants from supporters at yesterday’s game. Neither club tolerates foul language, racist chanting, homophobic chanting or any anti-social behaviour from its supporters”.

‘The Chanting’ was predominantly aimed at Emmanuel Adebayor (ex Arsenal now Spurs striker) with Harry Redknapp commenting, “What was chanted at Emmanuel was disgusting,”. It doesn’t take much to work out that this was a minority of fans reeling off the old unacceptable racists chants.

This is nothing new, for either English football or Adebayor. The ‘Adebayor chant’ has followed him round English football for seasons. The chant effortlessly skips from saying his father washes elephants and his mum’s a whore to making reference to his experience of witnessing a friends death in a terrorist attack. This goes beyond racism – this is blind hatred.

At one point the Arsenal fans chanted, “It should have been you, it should have been you, who was shot in Angola, it should have been you

Arsenal and Tottenham should be applauded for the swift and uncompromising way they have dealt with this issue. I hope that they do single out “those responsible” and make an example of them.

This is just the latest example however and only goes to highlight how far we have to go to remove this sort of hatred from the game.

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The African Cup of Nations in Angola and the World Cup in South Africa – there’s no comparison

I have recently read a whole series of sensationalist articles suggesting that due to the unrest and violence that has occurred during the African Cup of Nations (held in Angola), the safety of the football World Cup being held in South Africa should be questioned.  This is idiotic at best.

Angola is about 2,000km away from South Africa.  A similar distance can be found between Spain and Mali, or Greece and Iraq. Angola only gained independence from Portugal in 1975.  From there it slipped into an intense civil between the MPLA and UNITA (1975-2002).  In this time about 500,000 people were killed.  It was one of the ‘conflict theatres’ of the cold-war that lasted the longest.  This war provided one of the few significant links between South Africa and Angola; apartheid South Africa supported (along with the US) the anti-communist UNITA. 

The civil war spawned a terrible humanitarian crisis, internally displacing about a third of Angola’s population (about 4.2 million).  In 2003 the UN estimated that 80% of the population did not have access to basic medical care and 60% did not have access to safe drinking water.  The life expectancy in Angola is less than 40.

Are we completely surprised then, when the world gives a country (or terrorist movement) a media hook like the Cup of Nations that violence should ensue? The Togo football team defied organizers demands to only fly in and took a bus from neighbouring Congo.  The following attack left at least 3 people dead.  Adebayor, the ex-Arsenal Striker was left holding one of his best friends as he passed away in his hands.  This sort of attack, with its high profile football stars, filled the Western Press (see http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/africa/article6982463.ece).

There is no doubt, that this Cup of Nations has shown some outstanding football, but this has been over-shadowed by the politics and violence that surrounds it.  Commentators have suggested that this has set a precedent for coming competitions, including the South Africa World Cup in the summer.

This is ridiculous!  Firstly, it suggests that this is a new idea (to attack a large sporting event to gain publicity – remember the Israeli athletes at 1972 Olympics?).  In this sense South Africa is no more under threat than it was before the latest violence in Angola.  I strongly suspect, this is another example of the media exploiting Europeans ignorance of geography and politics to paint these two “southern African” nations to be similar.  They have both been through turbulent recent histories, but to suggest that they share much more than this is wrong.

South Africa became an independent republic in 1961, and the government decided to continue to legislate based on apartheid until the early 90′s.  Since then, the country’s politics have been dominated by the ANC, fist with the figurehead of Mandela, then Mbeki and now Zuma.  There is still a high rate of crime across South Africa, especially for murder and rape.  One in three women questioned in a recent survey said that they had been raped in the past year (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/258446.stm).  There are clearly problems facing South Africa, especially in relation to the security issues in the run up to the World Cup; but do you:

A) Think that FIFA have not discussed this with them and are satisfied with their plans and

B) This has any connection to the violence in Angola?

What does this mean for the average footy fan?  It means you should be vigilant when travelling in South Africa.  Have a read up on the risks before you go, take sensible precautions.  Just like with every world cup, there will be a small surge in crime, especially petty.  Should you be afraid of a violent terrorist attack, I really doubt it – you are much more likely to get your wallet stolen.

This African Cup of Nations and the coming World Cup will hopefully illustrate an awkward juxtaposition between the extravagant wealth of modern football and the relative hardship faced in South Africa (and the extreme hardship faced in Angola).  Let the football be enjoyed, but let’s not forget the politics.

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