Bamford Abuse Is Just The Latest Stain On The So-Called Beautiful Game

The Leeds United striker was subjected to death threats this week
11:00, 21 May 2023

“The world’s in such a big mess, isn’t it?” Sam Allardyce seemed utterly bewildered, and you couldn’t blame him. Leeds United had been forced to issue a statement denouncing death threats Patrick Bamford and his family had received through Twitter.

His crime? Missing a penalty.

It seems we’re in a situation now where we just have to expect these abhorrent things to happen. Bamford has a spot-kick saved against Newcastle United one week and he’s left fearing for his life and those of the people he loves the most. If he scores a winner on Sunday against West Ham United there will probably be calls for Leeds to build a statue of him outside Elland Road.


The fickleness of football fans has intersected with the absolutist cess-pit world of social media to make a deathly cocktail which is a stain on society. Weirdos in their parents’ box rooms feel the need to take out their desperation at how sad their lives are on footballers who haven’t lived up to a mythical agreement. Every last kick of a ball becomes the worst or the best thing to ever happen in their sad little lives and they have to take it out on whoever they decide hasn’t fulfilled their end of some unspoken bargain. It is as depressing as it is predictable.

We saw it over the past week or so with Sheffield Wednesday manager Darren Moore too. After his team crumbled to a 4-0 loss in the first leg of their League One play-off semi-final in Peterborough, Moore was subjected to vile racist abuse. So too the Wednesday chairman Dejphon Chansiri. Within six days, Moore was the architect of the greatest comeback in EFL history, hailed in all parts for his leadership, his humility and his level-headedness.

Those who abuse players, managers, fellow fans –whether ally or foe – over a game of football don’t deserve to feel any of the incredible emotion sport brings. They’re a waste of skin, to put it mildly. So Sam Allardyce’s reaction to the abuse of Bamford can be considered measured in the extreme when he could have been forgiven for launching a tirade on what has become of sporting fandom.

“Obviously he’s extremely upset about the situation,” Sam said of Bamford’s state of mind following a troubling few days. “It’s something that leaves a very, very, very bad taste indeed. I’d like the police to do a lot more, it appears that when it becomes social media they rule the world and can say and do what they want.

“The club’s given him as much support as he needed, particularly security-wise, and it wasn’t just about him it was about his family.”

But where does it end? And when? Because there is seemingly no end in sight to this constant, depressing cycle. England players miss penalties in a Euro final… racist abuse follows. Harry Maguire has the temerity to wear the captain’s armband his Manchester United boss has handed him and suddenly Cristiano Ronaldo fanboys are speaking of him as though he is the devil. Black manager loses a game? He’s the enemy. Striker doesn’t score goal? Threaten to kill his entire family.

Football is meant to be all about the chance and unpredictability. You’re supposed to accept the rough on the road towards the smooth. What gives these morons the belief that they are somehow owed a particular outcome in any given football match?

Maybe Allardyce is right. Maybe the police need to do more. Perhaps the football authorities should step in with greater frequency, or even fans themselves need to be encouraged to police each other more regularly. Whatever the suggested next step is, it is a long way from being a catch-all solution since this has truly reached unbearable levels.

What have we come to when the greatest hope neutrals can possibly have going into West Ham v Leeds on Sunday is for all of the players to get home afterwards and not find some vile scum littering their timelines with hate.

The beautiful game? If only.

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