Potty-mouth fans face sanction in Spain, writes Tim Stannard...
"If you tolerate this, then your bird seed will be next” – the new anthem of the Spanish supporter looking at a Friday night, Saturday afternoon, Saturday evening, Sunday morning, Sunday afternoon, Sunday evening or Monday evening as an outlet to go to a game, blow off a bit of steam and sing merry songs about the unworthiness of opponents of any kin and creed.
The latest target in the current clean-up clampdown in La Liga is those boisterous songs that some might think uncouth. Ditties that went unchecked for years have now been branded as very undesirable by the Spanish Football League (LFP), with observers making reports in five stadiums across La Primera last weekend.
The firm action is the Spanish game's latest move to clean up the streets of La Liga, following last week's attempt to rein in the more extreme Ultra groups. While discussions are still in play over how to best control trouble outside stadiums, supporters are now finding themselves being banned from grounds in a very sudden changing of the rules, or rather a very sudden implementation of the rules.
Real Madrid took action by banning 17 supporters for chants against both Catalunya and Leo Messi – the songs appeared in an official report – while incidents were also logged at the Camp Nou and at the grounds of Deportivo, Granada and Rayo, the latter featuring visiting Sevilla supporters' chant of “Mucho Betis, mucho s***”.
The divide on whether the LFP have gone a little bit too far was nicely shaped by Carlo Ancelotti and Luis Enrique. The Real Madrid manager noted ahead of the Ludogorets clash that “insults can be violent too,” while the thick-skinned Barcelona boss, who has had his share of bile from the stands over the years, opined that “if you empty the stadiums of everyone who insults you, then you will be on your own.”
LLL is now deciding whether Barcelona’s next game, at Getafe, will be a high-risk affair for some fans. The minimum €60 ticket cost will continue the club’s policy of hosting as few spectators as possible in the ground to save on cleaning costs. But it does mean that any loudmouthed suggestion as to what Gerard Piqué might do with Shakira of a Sunday morning could be very audible indeed as it echoes around the Coliseum, causing gasps of shock and the LFP observer to collapse with an attack of the vapours.
Of course, there is always a line in what's acceptable and what's off-limits, but yelling “f*** off Real Madrid / Barcelona / Granada / Mirandés” seems to be a little bit strong. It's the next debate to be had by a sport setting itself new boundaries after recent events.