Picture this. You’re having a nice day in, let’s say, the pub, when all of a sudden someone starts on a member of your family, verbally berating them. Would you stand there and watch? Or would you jump in and do something?
This is the question which, one can assume for a split second, arrived in Eric Dier’s head on March 4th, when Tottenham Hotspur took on Norwich in what ended a 3-2 defeat. As if Spurs’ shocking run of form in recent months wasn’t enough, he looks into the crowd, towards where his family normally sits, and he sees his brother being attacked verbally by a fellow fan.
Dier ran into the crowd, jumping over various obstacles and scaling towards the fan zone, and began confronting this ‘supposed’ fan. He was held back by fans and staff alike, as he stood up for his brother. As long as it took him to arrive, he was gone, being escorted out by both stewards and security.
This has raised a few question marks within football communities across the nation. People seem divided on whether he did the right thing, or was completely irresponsible. When considering his role as a professional footballer (emphasis on the ‘professional’), the concept of running off the pitch and confronting a fan is somewhat unethical. You’re supposed to keep your cool, both in success and defeat. Although not as physical, it musters up imagery of the infamous Cantona flying kick of 1995; a footballer losing his head and acting on impulse.
However, we have to appreciate that this is his brother. His own flesh and blood. It’s fair enough saying that we wouldn’t have acted in the way in which he did, but if you saw your family being bullied, we would all rush to their side. All this confusion over Dier’s actions, and it’s consequences, has been summed up perfectly by his manager.
“When somebody insults you and your family is there and they get involved with the person insulting him I think Eric Dier did what we professionals cannot do but probably what everyone of us would do”.Jose Mourinho, in the post-match interview
As much as we instinctively want to attack Dier for his actions, we should think about that fan in the crowd. He perfectly sums up football culture in the 21st century. The same fans which may sing your praises one week, will be attacking your family members the next. I’m not saying it’s irrational to feel some despair, some pain or some hate towards your team. God knows as an Everton fan I’ve had my fair share! But acting on your emotions in such a hateful way, in seeking a players’ family as if they’re to blame, surely shouldn’t have a place in the modern game.
Perhaps we should consider what it’s like for the players who have to receive this abuse day in and day out, before we attack them for acting on it?
Last modified: 18th March 2020