I don’t know for sure, but I would hazard a guess that Emmanuel Frimpong does not have a detailed knowledge of the Second World War.
He might have seen a movie or two and he has probably heard of the Nazis, Hitler and the Holocaust without ever achieving any depth of insight or understanding.
If you asked him about the Final Solution, he might well reply that he does not do crosswords.
And if his knowledge of 20th Century warfare is thin, then it’s a safe bet that he will know little of the pogroms of the Middle Ages, when Christians massacred Jewish communities in countries across Europe, including England.
You can’t really blame the lad. He has been caught in a pincer movement between, on the one hand, the woeful inadequacies of what passes for state education in the modern age and, on the other, his gift for football, which will undoubtedly have taken his focus, time and effort away from academic pursuits.
So when he replied to an abusive Twitter troll by calling him a “Scum Yid” I doubt that he realised what he was saying.
Growing up as an Arsenal supporter and, dream of dreams, an Arsenal player, young Emmanuel has probably always associated the word “Yid’ primarily with supporters of our local rivals, even while being aware that it refers to Jewishness.
He must also have known that Tottenham fans often refer to themselves as “Yids” and “Yiddos”.
To Emmanuel it probably carries the same weight as calling a Chelsea fan a “Chav”, or a Liverpool fan a “Bindipper”.
All three terms are offensive and all are used as insults, but only one of them casts a long shadow of hate, persecution and mass murder. For that reason it’s quite right that, in modern society, we refuse to deem “Yid” an acceptable word, just as we refuse to accept words like “Nigger” or “Paki”.
So even though our combative midfield enforcer may not have realised the full scale of the potential offence when he dished out the insult to a Twitterer (who, incidentally, had Tweeted that he hoped Frimpong would suffer broken arms and legs), it was important that the Football Association did the right thing and charged him.
A statement from the FA said Frimpong had been charged because he “posted comments amounting to improper conduct and/or which brought the game into disrepute, which included a reference to ethnic origin, faith or race.”
Frankly, we can’t lambast football bodies for dishing out miniscule fines to national associations whose fans make racist chants, then argue that an Arsenal player who uses a racial insult should not face punishment.
Mind you, if the FA follows UEFA’s lead when it comes to sentencing, then Emmanuel can expect to get 10 push-ups and three Hail Marys.
Hopefully when he gets called before the FA beak, the player will be able to demonstrate that he did not realise the full offensiveness of the word. I imagine he will use ignorance – or at least partial ignorance – as a defence (and probably an honest defence, at that).
The mitigating circumstances should mean he is not punished unduly heavily. Certainly there would be a bad taste in the mouth if Frimpong were to be banned from games while that fine, upstanding Mr Terry walks free despite making clearly racist comments in front of 30,000 people and a TV audience of millions (and I know the FA may still rule in the Terry case, despite a court of law finding him not guilty).
It’s a cliché, but there is no place for racism in football and Emmanuel Frimpong will probably pay the price for crossing the line.
Of course there is a legitimate debate to be had about abuse in football generally. I have never used the term “Yid” in my life. I hate it. But I have hurled all sorts of foul-mouthed abuse at opposition players. I once spent a good 10 minutes in the old Upper East stand at Highbury chanting (along with everyone else) “you’re ginger and you know you are” at Gordon Strachan, who was walking up and down the touchline.
Strachan had a sense of humour and gave us all a smile and a wave, but it was still abuse.
Where are the boundaries? What is reasonable and what is not?
It’s a difficult one but I would appreciate your thoughts.
Note from admin:
The word ‘yid’ is one of just a few that are banned on this site. Any comment containing the word would normally go straight into spam. For the purpose of today’s article, it has been removed from the list of banned words so that bloggers can debate the issues raised in a mature manner.