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Flags to Riches

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.

Writer:Tim Stillman
Date:Friday December 22 2006
Time: 10:54AM


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.
22/12/2006 11:31:00
Its PC gone mad.
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
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???
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
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
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.
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
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
22/12/2006 13:00:00
Little Dutch, your amendment is appreciated mate.
22/12/2006 13:06:00
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