For most of us now the dour 0-0 result against Leeds is firmly in the background as we focus on our Europa League against Molde.
However, as a diehard Arsenal supporter for many years, I have to say that what I and many others saw on social media after the game made me sit there and simply shake my head.
Now, this is a sensitive subject for many people, and rightly so, and after what I found myself reading regarding Nicolas Pepe after his red card was nothing short of disgusting. So much so that I have felt compelled to write this piece.
Seeing the amount of abuse toward not only Nicolas Pepe but also Ezgjan Alioski was horrendous. Regarding Pepe, what I read on numerous Twitter accounts, Instagram posts, and Facebook pages, he was racially abused for an incident which I am sure we can all agree that the incident was not even that bad. Yes, Pepe was in the wrong and yes Alioski made the most of it but to have this level of abuse from our so-called “fans” actually made me embarrassed to be a supporter of this club that I have loved for years.
The fact that to this day there are people out there that hide behind their keyboards and direct abuse in this manner is shocking and when you think about it, it was all over a football game. It was not a matter of life or death; it was simply a game of football. These people need to realise that players have lives, they have kids and families. Can you imagine if Nicolas Pepe’s little boy sees this abuse his father copped years from now? What will he think?
Racism has no place in football and has no place in anywhere in the world and the fact that OUR supporters turned on him in such a way is truly sickening. They are meant to support the team, through the highs and the lows, we stand by the players and the club because that is what “fans” are supposed to do.
Now we all get upset at results sometimes or the form of some players and that is part of being a fan. But when someone makes a mistake as Pepe did against Leeds it does make you sit back and say, “why did he do that?”.
For many of us well at least me anyway, there is an initial disappointment but then you must put it into context. It is only a football game and life goes on, the world does not stop after a bad result, what is there to be gained from racially abusing a player, who is only 25 years old mind you, and has a young family as well. How is he meant to feel when he sees this kind of stuff? How is he meant to play in front of those so-called fans and enjoy the beautiful game of football with those same people who abused him?
I feel for him I do. No one should be subject to that and I was extremely proud of both Leeds and Arsenal for saying in their statement that there are going to try and bring the culprits to justice with the help of the police and other authorities.
Nicolas has apologised for his indiscretion against Leeds but once the final whistle blew and the initial feelings from the game had subsided that should have been it. Not the racial abuse that followed.
This article might not sit well with some people that is fine, but speaking to other writers about this, I felt this is something that had to be said because to abuse someone for an incident like that and let alone be one of our players, who has had an indifferent time in his Arsenal career, to begin with. Then to add this it is just horrible.
Hopefully, Nico will pick himself up after his red card and be back playing in front of fans when this pandemic is over, however, I feel that for some fans they are already out on him as a player and that in itself is a shame as he has potential to be a great player.
Will he come back from this? I surely hope so because if he is driven out of the club by these people who call themselves “fans” then that will truly be a dark day in the history of our great club.