Is it right for fans to boo their own players?

After the actions of Granit Xhaka for his substitution during Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace at the Emirates, there has been a debate regarding whether Xhaka’s actions were justified as some people believe that his behaviour was unjustified, especially as he is the Arsenal captain. The other side of the debate has seen some people defend Xhaka by saying that his actions were understandable considering the reception that he was receiving from the Arsenal fans where he was booed and ironically cheered. This isn’t an isolated incident as there have been many occasions where players have been booed by their own fans and it continues to be an issue that splits supporters with differing opinions. So we’ll be looking at both sides of the argument and discussing whether supporters are right to boo their own players.

It’s ok to boo players

Fans are the most important aspect of any football club, fans are the ones who give any football club their identity and their character and are there before any players or managers and brought in, and will be there when any players or managers leave, regardless of any change a club goes through, the supporters will always be there. Supporters pay a lot of money to support their club, whether it be for tickets, merchandise or travel to and from the games. Speaking of travel to a from the games, it’s easy to forget that the game isn’t just 90 minutes for the supporters, it’s waking up during the early hours of the morning, it’s getting back during the late hours of the night and it’s waking up for school or work after getting 5 hours of sleep, not just 90 minutes of football. Considering the time, money and effort supporters give to their club and their team, they are perfectly entitled to voice their opinions whether it be happiness or frustration. Arsenal’s game against Crystal Palace was a perfect example as the majority of boos during Xhaka’s substitution were in response to Xhaka slowly walking off the pitch when Arsenal needed in a goal, instead of in response to his performance and Xhaka in general. However, if players simply aren’t pulling their weight and putting as much effort and passion into their performances as their fans are putting into the club, it’s understandable for fans to feel frustrated and angry, and they have every right to portray that frustration if they wish to do so.

They shouldn’t boo

Supporting a football club is about more than simply watching the match and buying a shirt, it’s about standing by your club and motivating your players and manager in the tough times as well as the good. By booing your players and your manager all you are doing is creating tension and a division between yourselves and the club. Look at Xhaka for example, it’s understandable to lose your head and be frustrated when thousands of your own supporters are booing you, because at the end of the day he’s human like the rest of us. The events are likely to have hugely damaged Xhaka’s pride and his confidence going into his next game (if he does play for Arsenal again). Football arguably has the most passionate and vocal fans in the world so it’s vital that there is a connection between the team and the fans at games (especially at away games) in order to motivate the team to get the result, by being disconnected from the fans, the players and manager are likely to feel more pressure and lack motivation, this isn’t always the case but it’s not uncommon for tense home atmosphere to affect the teams performance. Naturally, booing and other vocal forms of anger towards players can cause this disconnection and impact the mentality of the squad. Like we mentioned with Xhaka, players are professionals who should keep calm and not react when they are booed, but they are humans who can be affected by it. If you are unhappy with the way a player or the team is performing, don’t get on their back about it, get behind them, support them and motivate them to go that extra mile and put everything they can into improving.

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