WHAT’S that saying again? Once is a fluke, twice is a coincidence, three times is a trend.
And while I hate to apply the word trend to fans attacking footballers, last week it happened three times in three days.
PA:Press Association Fans united will condemn attacks to footballers and toxic behaviour at games
First when a Hibernian supporter shoved Rangers’ James Tavernier.
Then when a Birmingham fan ran on to the pitch and punched Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish.
Finally, when an Arsenal supporter ran on to the field and pushed Chris Smalling during Manchester United’s defeat to Arsenal.
And unfortunately, these are not isolated incidents.
Two weeks ago a glass bottle was thrown at Celtic’s Scott Sinclair. Last December, Tottenham’s Dele Alli was hit by a plastic bottle during a game against Arsenal at the Emirates.
Then there was the vile verbal abuse directed at Raheem Sterling at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge and the banana skin thrown at Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang by a Tottenham supporter.
And when Robert Snodgrass took a corner when West Ham faced Crystal Palace recently, a man in the front row repeatedly shouted obscenities at him.
But would these men invade the stage and assault a performer if they didn’t like the music? Of course not.
So what makes them think it is OK to behave like that during a football match?
Passionate supporters are the backbone and lifeline of the club. But this passion, for a small minority, is boiling over into something so unsavoury no one wants to see it.
PA:Press Association Passionate supporters are the backbone and lifeline of the clubs but this passion is boiling over into something unsavoury
These footballers are professional players. They want to do their job as well as they can without anyone being abused or assaulted.
So I can guarantee you that no footballers condone this behaviour — whichever side they are on. Because these incidents reflect badly not only on the individuals involved but on the teams they support.
Supporters need to remember they are ambassadors for their clubs.
At West Ham, our players and officials are protected to the max. We have 52 pitch-side stewards and take immediate action if anything like this happens. Our approach is to name, shame, hope the courts imprison — and ban.
I’m not forgetting, by the way, the bad old days of the Seventies when hooligans gave football a bad name. But with proper seating, family stands, proper policing and CCTV, a lot of that was eliminated.
That’s why it’s really important to seriously nip in the bud any toxic behaviour — such as racist abuse and homophobic language — that is threatening to make a comeback.
So what is the answer? Some people talk about physical barriers as a solution. But we can’t bring back the cages — that is unthinkable after Hillsborough.
Others suggest closing off the first two rows to reduce access. But that ruins the atmosphere.
So I’ve had another idea, inspired by a letter the Chelsea chairman wrote to supporters after Raheem Sterling was racially abused.
I’m setting up the Premier League London supporters’ charter.
PA:Press Association The Premiere League London supporters’ will have an education programme for those who engage in abuse
West Ham and the other London clubs — including Arsenal, West Ham, Chelsea, Spurs, Crystal Palace and Fulham — are developing a charter together of how we want our supporters to behave.
That will include a zero tolerance policy of any abuse of footballers and on racist, homophobic and anti-social behaviour.
We will have an education programme for those who engage in abuse. We will train the stewards better to deal with incidents.
And we are mounting a campaign in which players will explain exactly how unpleasant and disturbing it feels to be shouted at and abused.
That is the preventative stuff. And then there are the consequences: anyone who comes on the pitch — whether to protest or to punch — should go to prison. And going to prison changes your life.
You are likely to lose your job, not permitted to work in certain professions and banned from travelling to places such as the US.
And if they can’t grasp the basics about how to behave, that’s what people need to understand.Please yourself on looks
TOWIE’s Georgia Kousoulou said this week that she was reduced to tears by social media trolls after they criticised the nose job she had last year.
Apparently she is “abused every day”, which must be truly grim.
Georgia Kousoulou said she was reduced to tears by social media trolls after they criticised the nose job she had last year
But I’m sorry to say that Georgia’s experience shines a light on the risk you take when you have surgery to please other people . . . rather than yourself.
I know it can be easier said than done, but self-approval – not that of others – is the most important thing.
And the reality is that as long as you’re more or less happy with the way you look, who gives a hoot(er) what other people think?
And equally, if you don’t accept yourself then no amount of pumping up your boobs, lips or bum, will make you feel truly better about yourself.
Part of the problem is the unrealistic goals we are putting out there (thanks to surgery, filters, and photo-editing software) for young people to aspire to.
Ironically, though, if you can choose to genuinely feel happy about the way you look, which involves accepting your flaws, you may well decide you don’t need surgery after all.
The other problem with our obsession with social media is the degree to which we value how much others rate our looks, rather than how we rate ourselves.
I think we all need to care less what others think of us – and more what we think of ourselves.
Have a monobrow and like it
I AM full of admiration for the US model Sophia Hadjipanteli, self-styled founder of the “unibrow movement”.
She says she has received death threats for having a monobrow, and liking it.
Instagram US model Sophia Hadjipanteli has received death threats for having a monobrow – and liking it
I had a monobrow when I was a teenager and was so aware that it was a no-no that I plucked it into oblivion. Oh the follies of youth.
I now have to have them tattooed to make it look like I have eyebrows.
I wish I had stuck two fingers up to the world like Sophia, above, who is gorgeous and embraces her natural looks instead of conforming to someone else’s standard of beauty.
But death threats over eyebrows. What’s the world coming to?
Embarrassment of the privileged
OH DEAR, what about Felicity Huffman being one of 50 people who have been accused of paying bribes to get their children into America’s top colleges.
The Desperate Housewives actress allegedly paid more than £11,000 to arrange for someone to fix her daughter’s exam results.
If it’s true – apart from the shame of being exposed as a cheat – imagine the message she would send to her children: You are not good enough as you are.
The reality is if a student cheats their way in they will be in for a life of misery – because they won’t be able to keep up with the work.
Now Felicity’s kids may have to suffer the embarrassment of the world knowing their mum bought them their place.
Socialist rule’s big step back
IF you think you’ve had a bad week, spare a thought for the Venezuelans who woke up to find their tap water running black, contaminated with crude oil, in the latest crisis to hit the beleaguered South American nation.
The city of San Diego in Carabobo state has suffered with an intermittent water supply for months, made worse by a week-long power blackout that has completely cut it off in some areas.
AFP or licensors If you think you’ve had a bad week, spare a thought for the Venezuelans who woke up to find their tap water running black
Let us also not forget that it was only a few years ago that Jeremy Corbyn hailed the socialist rule in Venezuela as a “vision to be replicated in Britain”, saying that: “There is a different and a better way of doing things. It’s called socialism, it’s called social justice, and it’s something that Venezuela has made a big step toward.”
In truth, poor Venezuela has taken a giant step backwards. The country lurches from one crisis to another, with power cuts, a lack of medicine, food and running water.
This once prosperous country now lies in ruins because – as Margaret Thatcher said – the problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.
If this is Jeremy Corbyn’s vision for Great Britain, then God help us all.
Four-day May work
ANYONE else see the reports about the experiment conducted recently by several small British firms involving switching their workers over to a four-day week – for the same pay?
The idea is that working less can mean higher productivity and better balance between life and work.
Of course some people are opposing the idea, but there’s no doubt that working too many hours means lots of workers have to take time off for stress or depression each year.
So maybe it actually makes sense.
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Dark Lady sure to enlighten
I’M not the world’s biggest theatre-goer but I was blown away by Emilia at The Vaudeville Theatre.
It’s about the trailblazing woman Emilia Bassano, the so-called “Dark Lady” of Shakespeare’s sonnets, whose story has been forgotten for 400 years.
By telling the story of this extraordinary woman, Emilia also celebrates women’s voices through history and today
But by telling the story of this extraordinary woman, Emilia also celebrates women’s voices through history and today.
The other thing I love about this show is that it’s written, directed, designed, choreographed, composed, and produced by an all-female team, and features an all-female company of 19 actors and musicians, many making their West End debut.
It’s the most uplifting evening of female empowerment and energy and the audience are on their feet night after night.
Seriously – go and see it.
Footage appears to show a football fan being slashed across the face after supporters clashed in a mass brawl before the Millwall and Everton FA Cup tie