FEVER PITCH: About 100 Manchester United fans gained access to Old Trafford to protest against the club’s owners. AFP/VNA Photo
There’s nothing wrong with protesting about something you strongly believe in. Voicing concerns, raising objections, and even taking to the streets, banner in one hand, megaphone in the other.
If there’s something that needs fixing, people power, unity and one common voice is a good place to start.
We’ve seen a lot of protests over the past week or so in England as football fans, feeling very much unwanted and not cared for, demonstrated against the owners of their respective clubs.
Chelsea have agreed to have a representative from a supporter’s group present at board meetings and Liverpool’s chairman met with fan organisations to talk about the best way forward.
Manchester United though, well things are a little less cut and dry.
Last week, in what appears to have been a well-organised demonstration against their American owners, supporters managed to get inside of Old Trafford ahead of their game against Liverpool and cause enough disruption to have the match delayed at first, then cancelled.
Some saw this as a victory. A win for the football fan taking on fat cat out-of-touch owners. And maybe in some ways, it was.
Will anything good come from it? Probably not.
Will their owners pack their bags and head back Stateside with their tails between their legs? No way, Jose.
But I can’t help thinking, and this isn’t because of my obvious and well-documented hatred of all things United, that maybe a line was crossed. A mark overstepped.
The 100 or so supporters who managed to gain access to the ground did achieve what they set out to, and the match was called off.
But there were reports of damage caused to a glass door, some suggestions camera equipment was stolen, and allegations one police officer was assaulted.
A flare was fired towards the commentary platform in the stands where pundits Graeme Souness and Jamie Carragher (both ex-Liverpool players) and former Manchester City star Micah Richards were stood.
Chants probably a little too obscene to repeat in this column were also screamed in their general direction as the anger turned somewhat away from the club’s owners and towards the former players of rival teams.
Thankfully only feelings were hurt and no physical injuries caused but for me, it did seem a little pointless and distracted from the protestors’ main objective.
I’ve no idea if that’s the end of it. I sense not. United’s owners, fronted up by television news crews outside their substantial homes in the US had little, if nothing, to say in the days that followed.
But I feel they won’t go quietly.
I just hope the next time a decision is made to organise a protest and get a message across on the global stage, a little more care is taken.
I was planning on watching United’s game with Liverpool from my home in Hà Nội, and I’ve no doubt millions of other supporters around the world tuning in were equally disappointed.
So from that perspective, United were hurt.
I just hope the next time supporters speak out, nobody actually gets seriously hurt. When that happens, it will be the fat cat owners you all hate so much who will actually be the winners. VNS