RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: Grandstanding in football has sunk to a new low… the clapping for Arthur Labinjo-Hughes was another stage-managed display of shameless virtue-signalling by a venal, amoral industry
The clapping started precisely six minutes after kick-off, for no apparent reason.
Then the TV cameras switched to the big screens, which were showing a picture of a young boy in a blue football shirt.
On the pitch, the game stopped as players joined in the applause.
The commentator explained in reverent tones that this was a tribute to ‘tragically murdered’ six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes.
He had ‘the sympathy of the crowd, the sympathy of the whole nation’ we were told.
This was at Villa Park, but similar scenes unfolded at most football grounds across the country.
Arthur’s father and stepmother were both jailed last week for torturing and killing him during the first Covid lockdown.
I have absolutely no intention of repeating the gruesome details, largely because I refused to read them in the first place.
The clapping started precisely six minutes after kick-off, for no apparent reason. Then the TV cameras switched to the big screens, which were showing a picture of a young boy in a blue football shirt. The commentator explained in reverent tones that this was a tribute to ‘tragically murdered’ six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes
The simple knowledge of his horrible short life and death is harrowing enough, without wallowing in every cough and spit, punch and kick.
Arthur is the latest in a long line of brutalised children to be murdered by their parents or guardians while allegedly under the watchful eye of social services.
The names of Victoria Climbie, Baby Peter, Jasmine Beckford and Daniel Pelka spring to mind.
Each time we are promised there will be a ‘serious case review’, lessons will be learned and it must never happen again.
But no lessons are ever learned and it will — and does — happen again.
So-called serious case reviews inevitably turn into elaborate exercises in buck-passing and backside-covering.
In the awful Baby P case, the head of Haringey social services, Sharon Shoesmith, even managed to portray herself as the real victim.
She walked away with £600,000 compensation after being illegally sacked on the orders of the then Children’s Secretary, Ed Balls.
I’ll leave others to dwell on the shortcomings of ‘safeguarding’ professionals and the leniency or otherwise of the sentences handed down to Arthur’s father and stepmother.
No, what this column wants to address is the calculated exploitation of this tragedy by football clubs and directors desperate to burnish their ‘caring’ credentials.
Had this ‘tribute’ been a spontaneous gesture by genuinely horrified spectators it may have been understandable. But it was nothing of the sort.
This was another stage-managed display of shameless virtue-signalling by a venal, amoral industry which insists on clambering aboard every passing bandwagon, from anti-racism to trans rights.
Well in advance of the weekend’s fixtures, clubs posted on social media their intentions to hold a minute’s applause for Arthur.
The choreographed clapping would start after six minutes — one minute for every year of the boy’s life.
Birmingham City, the team he supported, wore specially printed ‘Arthur We Love You’ T-shirts. At some grounds, the crowds sang: We love you, Arthur, we do . . .
This was at Villa Park (pictured), but similar scenes unfolded at most football grounds across the country. Above: The tribute at Leeds United’s Elland Road ground
Woe betide any fan who declined to clap or sing along. These days you have to be seen to care. Then it was back to screaming obscenities at the opposition and questioning the parentage of the referee.
I’m sure it was pure coincidence that this ostentatious pageant of compassion came just a couple of days after the publication of the official report into the drunken, drug-addled disorder at the European Championship final at Wembley in the summer — variously headlined ‘Football’s Day of Shame’.
How many of those thugs who gatecrashed the stadium before the match were on parade at the weekend, clapping wildly?
I wonder if that notorious Chelsea fan filmed in Leicester Square with a lighted flare up his backside, after downing 20 cans of Strongbow, was at the London Stadium on Saturday singing: ‘We love you, Arthur . . .’
Regular readers will be well aware of the fact that I hate just about everything about professional football, except the football.
I gave up my season tickets at Spurs after 35 years because I wasn’t prepared to give money to anyone who insists on ‘taking the knee’ in support of Black Lives Matter before every game.
This fatuous gesture has been rendered utterly meaningless by constant repetition.
I gave up my season tickets at Spurs after 35 years because I wasn’t prepared to give money to anyone who insists on ‘taking the knee’ in support of Black Lives Matter before every game
Why do football clubs think they are entitled to tell their supporters what to think, what to feel even?
They claim to be ‘raising awareness’ of fashionable causes, but all they are doing is drawing attention to themselves.
Last Thursday, at Daniel Levy’s Leisuredome (formerly White Hart Lane), Tottenham staged a special light show in support of the LGBT Rainbow Laces campaign.
Rainbow Laces is the brainchild of the increasingly intolerant Stonewall, now at daggers drawn with feminists over its insistence that people with penises can call themselves women — something probably 95 per cent of us disagree with, even if you believe, like me, trans people should be treated with understanding.
So why should football fans be forced to embrace such a divisive, belligerent organisation? Same goes for Black Lives Matter.
As I have said before, when Spurs chairman Levy stands down in favour of a black lesbian from the nearby Broadwater Farm estate, I’ll take the club’s anti-racism, pro-equality posturing seriously.
But co-opting a child murdered in the most evil circumstances 18 months ago, just so they can feel good about themselves, represents a new low, even by football’s depressingly cynical standards.
No sentient person can avoid being horrified by the terrible suffering of young Arthur Labinjo-Hughes. But, at the same time, it’s also possible to find the vicarious grief whipped up at football grounds over the weekend to be nothing short of stomach-churning.
Just when you think football can’t sink any lower, they’ve done it again. Give yourselves a round of applause, chaps.
No deaths, no one in hospital… and symptoms ‘are only mild’. That was the headline in yesterday’s Mail.
The World Health Organisation, generally alarmist, reports not a single person has died from Omicron despite it being present in 38 different countries.
South Africa, where the variant was first detected, says there was no major panic until Great Britain found out about it.
Then the world went bonkers. Once again, the Zero Covid lockdown enthusiasts are having a field day.
All those ‘experts’ we’ve seen so much of in the past couple of years are living the dream again.
BBC Breakfast is still wheeling out Cambridge’s Professor Branestawm and his Covid clock.
No deaths, no one in hospital… and symptoms ‘are only mild’. That was the headline in yesterday’s Mail, writes RICHARD LITTLEJOHN
And that scary looking Scottish woman who co-ordinates her jumpers with the flowers in the vase behind her is probably already deciding which colour goes best with a Christmas tree.
Meanwhile, a new threat emerges from Belgium, where two hippos have tested positive for Covid.
Even though they’ve got nothing worse than runny noses, they’ve been stuck in isolation.
In Nebraska, three snow leopards have died from the virus and there are reports that it can also spread to cats, dogs and deer.
How long before our own Government orders all zoo animals and domestic pets to wear masks and bark from home until further notice?
Mind you, if Covid wipes out the muntjacs chewing their way through my back garden in North London, that would be a result.
Any chance of it infecting the badger digging up my lawn?
Pixie Balls-Cooper is back on Labour’s front bench as Shadow Home Secretary.
Presumably, she’ll be heading to Dover to invite a few more migrants to share one of her two lovely homes.
After all, more than six years ago, she did promise she was going to take in some refugees from Syria, although she later changed her mind after protesting she hadn’t been properly trained.
Still, she must have had time to complete her fostering training by now. Hubby Ed Balls is probably painting the spare room as we speak.
Wee Burney’s SNP wants to ban pejorative words, such as alcoholic and addict.
How then, would we describe Doon Mackichan’s dipso Cathy, from Two Doors Down, who slurred her way back on to our screens last night?
Where, too, would that leave the celebrated substance abuser Methadone Mick, from Still Game? And, I will tell ya this, boy. I can’t see Rab C. Nesbitt calling himself a ‘person with alcohol abuse issues’.
Wee Burney’s SNP wants to ban pejorative words, such as alcoholic and addict. How then, would we describe Doon Mackichan’s dipso Cathy, from Two Doors Down, who slurred her way back on to our screens last night?
He’s a self-proclaimed alky bastard, and proud of it. When his GP asked him how much he drank, Rab replied: ‘I’m never sober enough to tally it up.’
And when told because of the state of his liver he only had a year to live, he declared: ‘I’m off to get blootered!’
Thousands of homes in the North are still without electricity, ten days after Storm Arwen hit.
This isn’t just a one-off natural catastrophe, it’s the future once the Government bans all fossil fuels in its insane pursuit of Net Zero.
Get used to it. You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.