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Flags to Riches

I am sure by now most of you are aware of Arsenal F.Cs current embargo on national flags in Emirates Satdium (spot the hypocrisy in that statement- more on that later). So is this too draconian a measure? Is the match day experience becoming overly sanitised? Does it really matter? We are supporting Arsenal afterall. Is it a sensible move on the club's part for a more inclusive match day experience? We are living in politically sensitive times (haven't we always?) and the football stadium should be a haven from the tumultuous state of global affairs.

You may have gathered from previous articles, that I am hardly the flag waving type. I've never seen the point in patriotism beyond it being a tool of establishment indoctrination. But that is a different point, I do not wish to turn this article into a political tirade. The blanket flag ban came about because, apparently, somebody was offended by the display of a Turkish Cypriot Flag. The person responsible received a complaint but refused to remove the offending article. Now in light of facts that N13 Gunner has furnished me with in the forum, apparently the brandishing of this flag represents a very offensive message to Greek Cypriots. So perhaps it is correct that the person should have been asked to remove it. But why should a flag representing one ideology that could be construed as offensive (a flag not recognised by the European Community) dictate a ban on ALL national flags? Why should the perceived support of opression by one individual impinge on those who bear no such wish, but instead seek to represent the far flung corners of the globe to watch Arsenal?

Of course there should be lines here. For example, what if somebody were to bring a swastika? Would that not cause gross offence? The answer is, yes it would. I would be disgusted to see such an article brandished at any football game or anywhere else for that matter. But this pertains to a political ideology that is very stringent, those that brandish the hooked cross (which incidentally was the universal sign for peace before Hitler adopted it) are conveying clear and unilateral ideas that would offend many people and mock many a gravestone. But a national flag (no matter how pointless I consider it to be) is an altogether different atrefact. It is intended (though rarely used) as an all inclusive symbol of solidarity. You cannot simply identify one individual with the body of policy adopted by a whole Government. For instance, if I were to see a star Spangled Banner adorning somebody's person, I would not automatically assume them to be a fastidious war mongering psycopath (as I personally consider their President to be). Even if they were pro-war on Iraq, I have to respect that in a democracy they are entitled to that opinion. Likewise, I am free to contest that opinion. Debate is the cornerstone of democracy. But I do not have the right or authority to have that person arrested or ejected from whatever arena I happen to be sitting in. So why do Arsneal F.C have this authority?

It is obvious that Arsenal are just doing anything for a quiet life, but they may be biting off more than they can chew in pursuit of political correctness. Firstly, does this ban include the wearing of national shirts? I often wear either my France or Netherlands shirt to home games, will I be politely asked to remove my shirt tomorrow? (I can assure any stewards reading that the site of my bare chest will cause more offence than any national flag!) Secondly, how on earth do Arsenal plan to inform visiting PSV fans of this ban? Having travelled to Europe to see the Gunners more times than my bank statement would care to remember, the sea of flags in the away end are usually the most colourful and eye catching site one can imagine. Arsenal F.C is officially the most diverse fan base in England. We contain a higher number of ethnic minorities amongst our season ticket holders than any other club. Arsenal F.C is also the most diverse squadron in England. We number fourteen different nationalities in our first team squad. Yet Arsenal are always towards the lower ends of the arrest league and our hooligan element is virtually non existent. Arsenal F.C set a record on September 28th, 2002 away at Leeds United. We fielded eleven non white players in our starting line up- more than any side in the history of the English game. So is Arsenal F.C not the shining example of national and racial harmony and the merits of diversity? So why is the club now seemingly acting with trepidation towards its admirable ubiquity?

Now I do not believe that the Arsenal board are adopting an Enoch Powell kind of stance here. I am just not entirely sure that this decision has been thought out. The Arsenal board lack the moral legitimacy to impose these kind of bans don't they? Afterall, it was they who sold the name of the stadium to an airline- a company whose very existence relies on the curiosity of other cultures. Particularly an airline that is loosely named after a confederation of countries! It was they who sold yards of advertising space to Visit Israel! So will the advertising boards be gagged and bound? The word Emirates tippexed out from the front of the stadium? As supporters are banned for exchanging face value tickets with friends, players criticise supporters but do not acknowledge those that travelled to Moscow or Bolton, this is just a further demonstration of the chasm between club and supporters. At a time when our financial future utterly depends on bums on seats, I fear the club are alienating their supporters, and an attempted act of contrition has become seditious. LD.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Friday December 22 2006

Time: 10:54AM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
Very well said young man. Also, for a club that has supporters clubs from scandinavia predominantly and all over the world at every home game it is impossible to impliment such a stance with the automated ticket scanning scheme.
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22/12/2006 11:31:00

Its PC gone mad.
Report Abuse
22/12/2006 11:37:00

The thing is political correctness is the most counter productive practise on earth. It does not alleviate intolerance, it mobilises it. If we take away people's ability to comment and debate, we lose the fundamental principle of democracy. The fact that a football club sponsored by 'Emirates' is doing this is just laughable. Flags have been at football for years, I don't really care for them, but lots of people like to represent where they come from- as hatespur mentioned- and I think this looks fantastic on the club.
Little Dutch
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22/12/2006 11:45:00

Some things the writer has failed to grasp... 1. The Turkish Cypriot flag is not a national flag because there is no Turkish Cypriot nation state. The flag is question is the flag which represents the Turkish occupation of north Cyprus, which all countries (baring Turkey of course) do not recognise as being legal and the ECHR has made countless negative judgements against. 2. As the flag in question symbolises the illegal pseudo-state, which was born from the racial segregation of the island and the forced ethnic cleansing of indigenous Greek Cypriots community (which amounts to a higher number than the WHOLE Turkish Cypriot community)..can you not see why Greek Cypriots would feel upset seing this flag waved in their faces at an Arsenal match?? Again, the flag in question is not a national flag and has many unethical conotations behind it which are on a par with the Nazi Swastika. Unfortunatly, people like the writer of the piece above are not fully informed of the issue at hand. Do YOU think its right to bring politics into a football match? That is what this Turkish Cypriot fan, who has ties with a politically motivated pro-racial segregation Turkish group, has done. When asked to take the flag down by Arsenal, he quickly gathered a solicitors letter and threatened to sue the club. Does this person seem like an Arsenal fan or hypocritical political activist to you? Would YOU put up with a flag that represents the opression of your people waved in your face, even if the rest of the political world has condemed what it represents???
Report Abuse
22/12/2006 12:13:00

O.K point taken, I was not aware of that (probably because I did not see the flag myself). I withdraw that remark about the complaint then. But the question is, why should that necessitate a blanket ban on all national flags if the offending article wasn't a national flag in the first place? That is the jist of the article, that banning all flags on the premise of one idiot just allows him to win doesn't it?
Little Dutch
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22/12/2006 12:21:00

I would like to point out that I have amended the article pertaining to N13Gooner's post. Apologies.
Little Dutch
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22/12/2006 12:35:00

It shouldnt mean a blanket ban on all national flags - that IS "using a sledgehammer to crack a wallnut". This person with the offensive flag threatened to sue Arsenal on the grounds of something similar of freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is all good but this person has taken advantage of the laws in this country to make a political demonstration at a football match. HE says its the flag of 'his country' but it shows how deluded and brainwashed he is as the rest of the political world has condemed the Turkish military occupation of the north of Cyprus. What the idea of thinking is for these people is if they push symbols of the illegal occupation in peoples faces, it will fool them into thinking it is a real country. In theory, if it ever was recognised as a real country, then Greek Cypriots would lose any chance of gettin their houses and properties back, which Turkish Cypriots and colonist mainland Turks illegally occupy and would never be able to return to their ancestrol home. I know this sounds ridiculously political for a football blog but I just wanted to give you a grasp of the issues at hand here. I am just so annoyed that this Turkish Cypriot so-called Arsenal fan has knowingly gone to make the matches for Greek Cypriot Arsenal fans extremely uncomfertable and also deceived the rest of the Arsenal fans who dont know about the Cyprus problem, by using our ground as an unethical political rally. If he wants a flag to represent him, let him take the flag of Turkey...the whole of Cyprus belongs to ALL Cypriots.
Report Abuse
22/12/2006 12:49:00

I completely agree, hence the swastika analogy. I think I violated the first premise of the article, i.e that this would not be political. Nevertheless, as Arsenal fans, this is an issue that bears discussion, a football stadium should be apolitical and nobody should feel excluded. Banning national flags impinges on everyone who brandishes them responsibly and lumps them in with this person. I think our exchange N13 proves just how worthwhile discussing this issue is. If Arsenal had their way, they would have banned us from using our typewriters this afternoon.
Little Dutch
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22/12/2006 12:55:00

Does this site have anything to do with football at all? it seems every time i wander over hear there is some political cr*p being spouted. Why don't you lot talk about football for a change? does stillman like football? does stillman like himself? no to both that is why he self harms while watching coronation street
Report Abuse
22/12/2006 13:00:00

Little Dutch, your amendment is appreciated mate.
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22/12/2006 13:06:00

N13Gooner, whilst your knowledge on the occupation on Northern Cyprus is to be admired I feel that the point is being passed by a religous issue totally alien to many of us. The issue in question is simply this...Why can't I take a St.Geoge's flag or a tricolor flag or a Welsh Dragon into the Emirates Stadium if I so choose? Now I'm sure Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots have a right to be contesting this piece of land and fair play to whoever it belongs to, but I am a white, English, Arsenal season ticket holder and shouldn't be dictated to which flag I bring to the ground if I want to do so. If I was to be ejected from the ground tomorrow for being drunk do you think there would be a blanket ban on alcahol??
Report Abuse
22/12/2006 13:21:00

what the greek cypriots should have done,in a situation like this,was to wait for this person outside the ground and have a quite word in his ear about freedom of speech.
fran merida
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22/12/2006 13:32:00

Hatespur, because the Turkish Cypriot fan threatened to sue the club on the grounds of freedom of expression / speech or something similar, the only way Arsenal could get around a lawsuit is to have a total blanket ban on all national flags - a kind of rule for all. Therefore, the flag of England comes under that category. What Arsenal got totally wrong is that the Turkish Cypriot flag is not a national flag because there is no Turkish Cypriot country. There is only one legally recognised state on the island of Cyprus - part of which is occupied by Turkey and made up ot something like 50% Turkish Cypriots and 50% of mainland Turkish settlers. Arsenal could have made up a rule saying only recognised country flags be allowed into the ground - but it is beyond me why they didnt. If this Turkish Cypriot fan feels separate from other Cypriots, then let him take the flag of Turkey. Like I said before, there is only one Cyprus for all Cypriots.
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22/12/2006 13:45:00

Fair enough. I'm off home in a moment so I'd like to take the opportunity to wish all Gooners a very Merry 9 points over the festive period and best wishes to you and yours for the new year.
Report Abuse
22/12/2006 14:33:00

haha...lets hope its also a Merry First Walcott Goal too lol.
Report Abuse
22/12/2006 14:38:00

Do you know what mr.commonsenCe? Please feel free to stop visiting the site. Like I said, this is an issue that affects Arsenal fans because it involves how we are allowed to support our team. Whatever angle you look at it from, the ban is wrong and it is sad that such a minority is allowed to inflict more responsible people. I think this is the first article I have written than could be construed as even vaguely political. I wrote an article about English players that was misconstrued by you and your Spud pals. But as this is an issue that affects Arsenal fans, I will politely request that you exercise your human right to bog off.
Little Dutch
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22/12/2006 17:03:00

Yeah I have to say...I Dont know what 'MrCommonSense' (is oxymoron the term im looking for?) is talkin about. This is the first political discussion ive seen on this or any Arsenal blog / website. Unfortunatly politics has been forced upon us right now. Well done Little Dutch for showing some intelligence no matter what stance you take.
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22/12/2006 17:47:00

Too right, the Northern Cyprus thing is not up for discussion here, merely the principle of a blanket ban on national flags.
Little Dutch
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22/12/2006 18:10:00

I think that N13Gooner is taking this way out of line - to compare the Turkish Cypriot flag with the Nazi flag is a bit too much. Explaining this whole thing from the perspective of the Greek Cypriots is biased. I don't think many would agree with you from the Turkish Cypriot side. And the whole debate about one Cyprus for all is completely unecessary. And I think LD got suckered into this - makes your article sound like you come from Nicosia. It gave this issue a political dimension - which should not. Everyone has a right to wave any f***ing flag in the world (proclaiming their national feeling or whatever - and don't even think that I am for allowing Nazi flags!), there is no rule or law which states only flags of recognized countries should be waived. If I want to fly the flag of my municipality, nationality, area, etc. and someone finds it offensive - big deal! There will always be someone. I read some statements from Greek Cypriots who said that the reaction of their countrymen is dispicable and makes THEM look fickle. They even go on saying that most of the people who signed this petition or threat to sue Arsenal (apparently there was one circling their emails) are not Arsenal fans at all. It is all ridiculous that the club is being held hostage in a way, because of an old political dispute that has nothing to do with football or Arsenal. And by the way, the Turkish Cypriot flag is exactly the same as the Turkish with the colors reversed, kind of like Swiss flag and Red Cross.
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23/12/2006 00:19:00

That flag represents an occupation based on the forced ethnic cleansing of Cyprus and its racial segregation. Dont believe me? Then go and read up on the matter from a non-Greek or non-Turkish perspective. Infact, go and ask the European Courts of Human Rights. Ask yourself why it is not internationaly recognised as a state and for what reason. If you think there is nothing wrong with what the flag represents, then it shows how unethical you are. The only person that has threatend to sue Arsenal is the Turkish Cypriot person who was asked to remove the flag....and I would also like to see where Greek Cypriots have apparently called the reaction of their country men dispicible, as I find that very hard to believe. Maybe you think it is ok to fly a banner that represented the BNP at football matches too as they would like to clear this country of ethnic races...but unlike Turkey or the Turkish Cypriots who worship this flag (go to the occupied part of Cyprus and you will see what I mean by 'worship'.), have not forcefully done so yet. If there was a flag that represented the aggresive removal from your ancestrol home and the thievery of your property, which has been repeatedly condemned by the international community but because there is a lack of knowledge of this subject amongst the average British citizen, it made you look just like politically correct moaners...would you not feel frustrated and pi**ed off????
Report Abuse
23/12/2006 02:27:00

OK, N13 it is clear that you have chosen a side. I for one have not chosen a side. You think this flag represents ethnic cleansing, etc. that's fine. I have no opinion. Maybe this person flew that flag because he is a Turkish Cypriot not because he wanted to offend anyone. I don't know. What I know is that in April 2004 there was a referendum for reunification of Cyprus - to go along with your "one Cyprus for all" statement. Do you know the results? Turkish Cypriots: 65% yes; Greek Cypriots 25% yes. So, there's always 2 sides of the story. I am not defending anyone, just saying that the article's neutral stance (as I think it should be on a football page) was not observed. And as for the article you looked for from a Greek Cypriot, try here: by the somewhat aggressive stance in your comments I assume this is a sensitive point to you, and if you were offended I appologize.
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23/12/2006 02:51:00

"I am not defending anyone, just saying that the article's neutral stance (as I think it should be on a football page) was not observed." This is regarding politics. I would never expect a neutral stance on football:))
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23/12/2006 02:53:00

The referendum for Cyprus was rejected by the Greek Cypriot community mainly because it was heavily biased towards Turkey. Just before the referndum, the powers that be (mainly America and their influence over the UN) allowed Turkey to make last minute ammendments to the so-called 'reunification plan' as a goodwill gesture so America could use Turkish airbases to help police the middle-east. If you dont beleive me, I can search the net and find the quote by a senior American official. The referndum only let 1/3 of Greek Cypriot refugees return to their homes, made the Greek Cypriot tax payer pay for their own compensation and basically gave Greek Cypriots very little human rights in the north. A biased constitution is what caused this mess and we didnt want to fall into the same trap. Do I have to go even more deeply into this now or are you hellbent on making me look like I am being unreasonable??? I am sorry if you interpretated my posts as aggressive but I dont want to have to stop going to Arsenal games or be forced to see something that promotes my people's oppression. As for these petitions, I can always forge a Turkish name and say something negative about Turkey - I wouldnt take the names on those petitions for granted. The most frustrating thing for me is that Greek Cypriots are being made to look like politically correct moaners because there is a lack of knowledge of this issue by the average football goer.
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23/12/2006 03:18:00

I will not argue with you N13, it is your opinion and I respect it. I am neither Turk nor Greek nor Cypriot. I just felt that this article was biased and you influenced it. You didn't say anything about the article of your compatriot on the link. I thought he was very sound and reasonable. Anyway, I hope this ban is withdrawn ASAP, and here's to a a united Arsenal support :)) Best wishes N13
Report Abuse
23/12/2006 09:58:00

I don't think the article is biased at all. It is made explicitly clear that I do not know enough about the whole Cyprus situation to come down on one side, hence the bland language I have adopted in the second paragraph. What is wrong is that this isolated incident has ruined it for everybody else. Personally, I've no desire to take a St. George's flag to a game, but I do not believe that people should have that choice removed.
Little Dutch
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23/12/2006 10:17:00

Ive read that article by a supposed Greek Cypriot Arsenal and have many doubts that he is Greek Cypriot at all. If you have ever been to Cyprus and talked about this issue, you will understand how the descecration of the mountain range with the Turkish flags, painted in order to taunt the Greek Cypriot community, causes a lot of distress alone....and the ironic thing here is he talks about Kick Racism out of football but the reason why Greek Cypriots are so against the display of that flag is that it represents a racist regime. I doubt very much that the person who wrote that article is infact Greek Cypriot. As you thinking I had deceived Little Dutch, then I would ask him to do some external research on the matter from a non-Greek and non-Turkish perspective.
Report Abuse
23/12/2006 11:01:00

N13 you seem to doubt everything that is not in compliance to your point of view. Can't argue that. I read some info on wikipedia and it confirms my views that both sides have different versions of the story. I will not get dragged into another 'who is right or wrong' discussion with you as you seem to be unable to accept anything but your point of view, although I appologized if it upset you and said I respected your feelings. LD needs not to make any further research I think, because this discussion took a wrong turn. Also LD I think that it would be a shame for someone not to be able to fly a St. George's flag with an Arsenal crest on it, because of this ridiculous decision.
Report Abuse
23/12/2006 12:32:00

Wikipedia is there for anyone to write information about - thats why its not a reliable source of information with regards to political issues etc. Yes both sides have different versions of the story - thats why im asking people to do research from a neutral perspective. I think its ridiculous that the St George's flag wont be able to fly at an English football match either and this rule will be found to have many contradictions.
Report Abuse
24/12/2006 05:03:00

N13, the wikipedia articles about cyprus are finely referenced to all relevant world and european organizations and institutions, as well as official documents published by the aforementioned. I bet a reliable source of neutrality for you would be one that is in support of your own opinion or opposing to the Turk Cypriot one. As it seems,nothing short of that has any credibility to you. Sorry, but discussing this matter with you is impossible since you are unable to separate your emotions from reason. Merry Christmas.
Report Abuse
24/12/2006 20:55:00


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