December 18, 2006

English flags banned at the Emirates.: That's the Emirates Stadium; Arsenal's home stadium.

"Some of our fans have been upset with the flying of certain flags denoting particular regions of the world"
via State of the Game

posted by Fence to soccer at 04:22 AM - 26 comments

Yeah, there's a bit more to this story than meets the eye. Outside of its ubiquity at international matches where England represents, St. George's Cross has frequently (and unfairly) been associated with racist and nationalist groups. Given the Arsenal squad's international makeup, I can see why some might find it provocative, even though the ban is, on the face of it, ridiculous.

posted by psmealey at 06:40 AM on December 18, 2006

And it's all national flags that are banned, not "English flags." I haven't heard of any particular trouble at the Emirates, (and I'm sure a breathless Garth Crooks would have been all over it if there was), so I'm wondering why the new rule?

posted by Mr Bismarck at 06:52 AM on December 18, 2006

This is absolutley absurd.

posted by samuelraphael at 07:20 AM on December 18, 2006

And it's all national flags that are banned, not "English flags." And this from the club's official statement: "Arsenal as a club prides itself on being inclusive with respect to all nationalities, cultural and ethnic groups." So in that vain, we exclude all flags from being flown at Emirates Stadium, except the Arsenal flag, of course. Why don't Arsenal just fly the French flag and be done with it.

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 07:28 AM on December 18, 2006

Well, France isn't that inclusive and they are having a hard time incorporating their muslim population into the greater cultural mix, so they aren't a very good example of inclusiveness. So, that's probably why.

posted by apoch at 07:30 AM on December 18, 2006

I'd be interested to know what is really behind this decision. Where have the complaints come from. What flags have been complained about? Did someone fly an Israeli flag? Does this ban extend to away fans (it surely must)? How will that be enforced? Very odd.

posted by MrMustard at 07:42 AM on December 18, 2006

Outside of its ubiquity at international matches where England represents, St. George's Cross has frequently (and unfairly) been associated with racist and nationalist groups. I'm not denying the associations also exist psmealy, but English flags with club names on them are ubiquitous at clubs at every level and have been since I started on the terraces as a teen in the 80s. They were rarely associated with out-and-out racist groups, just fans. Despite being a Crewe Alexandra supporter myself, I used to go to a fair few Swindon games after my family moved south. During the Hoddle era, there was a fashion for putting the club name on all sorts of national flags. I thought it was great, but remember watching a bunch of no-necks coming over to aggressively insist someone took down an Irish flag because they associated it with the IRA. And this was while Swindon actually had pie-eater extraordinaire Tony Galvin in the side, so you would have thought Irishness would be something to celebrate.

posted by Abiezer at 07:55 AM on December 18, 2006

Good point, Abiezer. I was merely guessing that some mouth-breathers were using the flag to express dissatisfaction over the lack of English players on the Gunners, but as others have surmised, it may have nothing at all to do with that.

posted by psmealey at 08:02 AM on December 18, 2006

Having Googled only after shooting me gob off, I find Tony was at Swindon during Ossie Ardiles' stint. Must get a new memory.

posted by Abiezer at 08:04 AM on December 18, 2006

Yup, all flags bar Arsenal ones, or so their website says, though surely that means that opposing supporters are being put in an awkward position ;) As for the English flag representing racists, yes it has happened in the past, and I'm sure it happens now, however it is STILL the English flag and as such surely you should have the right to wave it in support of an English club? For years we had a problem with the Irish flag being displayed, it pretty much did mean you supported the IRA, until it went up everywhere during the Euro '88 and Italia '90 football campaigns. Now it really doesn't have any connotation of being pro-the 'RA, in the Republic at any rate. I'm left wondering who were the fans that complained, and what flags were they complaining about.

posted by Fence at 08:09 AM on December 18, 2006

In many ways I'd be more sympathetic to a move like this from the Arse back in the day than now. I went really lukewarm on the national side all through the late 80s and up to probably Euro 96 as I was sick of games being a place where fascist gits and fellow-travellers could assemble to embarrass the nation - those were the associations I agree with psmealy about. It seems that recently, especially during the last couple of big tournaments, flying the English flag has gone more mainstream and has become more inclusive.

posted by Abiezer at 08:16 AM on December 18, 2006

From your second link:

This is political correctness gone mad.
Sorry, but I have a rule that I never read past that sentence. I had to close the browser window.

posted by afx237vi at 08:22 AM on December 18, 2006

Politics in sports at it's finest. I don't follow soccer too much, but from what I can see, the passion and intensity fans display is is unmatched in any other sport in any part of the world. Downright scary.

posted by Desert Dog at 11:11 AM on December 18, 2006

Apparently it's a Greece - Turkey thing. Linky

posted by squealy at 11:20 AM on December 18, 2006

"Fans upset of some of the other flags!" --- bunch of woosies! What´s next... avoid other teams national anthems from playing during international competitions? I hope FIFA takes cards into this matter and sets it straight!

posted by zippinglou at 01:23 PM on December 18, 2006

"This is political correctness gone mad." I do love that statement... As if political correctness is okay up to a certain point... This is ludicrous. What angers me more than anything is when any group, organization etc... Uses the "some people" or "some members" or "some fans" or whatever... Some ellusive, quite possibly fictional collective of whinging wankers. As the second link says, an English team, in England's capital city... If they're not full of shit, and some fans really did complain, they should ban the fans, not the flags...

posted by Drood at 01:33 PM on December 18, 2006

As if political correctness is okay up to a certain point... Well, a moderate dose of it probably minimizes overall potential for fistfights. That said, we can certainly argue whether less fistfights is better than more fistfights.

posted by psmealey at 02:13 PM on December 18, 2006

"denoting particular regions of the world" Regions have flags? I need to get me one of them Southeast Asian ones, then. Or perhaps one from the Melanesian Spearhead Group. Why don't the Arsenal administration come out directly and say what the complaints are actually about? Then we wouldn't be having this discussion wondering what the problem is, and the proposed solution might sound more logical. This is more like mealy-mouthedness gone mad.

posted by owlhouse at 02:36 PM on December 18, 2006

I've already told you owly, it's a Greek Cypriot-Turkish Cypriot thing. Well I didn't quite say that, but that's what I meant.

posted by squealy at 03:00 PM on December 18, 2006

Nice find, squealy.

posted by psmealey at 05:08 PM on December 18, 2006

As a Yank, I have to say that the top of my head would blow off if American sports teams started doing this with the stars and stripes. Frighteningly, I have to admit that it's a possibility. No matter what any of you say, it IS political correctness run amok. If, as some have intimated, the English flag is banned because a few have used it to represent their racist beliefs, it's entirely PC to decide that it's reasonable for people to be offended on the assumption that it's ALWAYS a racist representation. If, on the other hand, the ban was in response to trouble between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, again it is nothing but PC to decide that all national flags had to be banned rather than singling out the offenders.

posted by ctal1999 at 05:52 PM on December 18, 2006

Let me assure you that our flag is not a racist symbol. Except to those who choose to represent it as such. More links: Londra Gazette Turkses

posted by squealy at 06:39 PM on December 18, 2006

Thanks squealy - I must have missed that the first time round. Apologies to you and the Arsenal management. I guess they had to say 'region', then. If they had said 'certain countries', then the Greeks would have been pissed off at the de facto recognition of the Turkish 'republic' in northern Cyprus. Slightly off topic, back in the 80s, one of the best taunts I heard was at an Australian national league game between a club backed by the Macedonian community and one backed by the Greeks. Following cries of "Makedonia, Makedonia!", the Greeks sang back (in English) "At least we've got a country." I guess you had to be there.

posted by owlhouse at 02:34 AM on December 19, 2006


posted by XNEIZE_58 at 06:27 PM on December 22, 2006

Arsenal anthem required, all tunes accepted 'Stand Up If You Hate Tottenham' is hardly an answer to 'Bubbles' or 'Walk Alone.' Arsenal need a song of their own.

posted by sportingo at 04:46 AM on December 24, 2006

Cue rantings from 'FHM-man'.

posted by desigol at 11:31 AM on December 26, 2006

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