Should Ashley Cole have been booed?

Ashley Cole - loved and loathed in equal measure - was recently booed during a match after a particularly sloppy performance, yet what right do we really have to boo players? Is it simply a case of the fans bringing their prejudices onto the pitch, or is it a case of 'the man that pays the piper calls the tune'? Should Cole have been booed?

Should Ashley Cole have been booed?

Yes because... No because...

People have paid for their ticket, they should be allowed a say

England tickets are expensive. With such expenditure comes a right to comment on the performance of the player. Steven Gerrard, for instance, commented after the event that ‘any supporter, when you pay the money…[deserves] to voice an opinion’. When singers mime or actors give an appalling performance it is accepted that comment will be made. Indeed, it was even deemed acceptable for the members of the WI to heckle and slow hand-clap Tony Blair in June 2000. Footballs, like politicians are accountable to the public. If we pay to see them, it is our right to comment on their performance.

Booing players of the 'team' that you're supporting lowers that team's morale and thus works against you as a fan. When Cole is playing for England and English fans are booing him, they are being counterproductive by working against what 'they' want.

Should Ashley Cole have been booed?

Yes because... No because...

Footballers should accept that along with praise comes criticism

It would not be unfair to suggest that modern footballers are the celebrity gods of our age. Enjoying tremendous salaries and considerable popularity, many footballers seem now to think that they are beyond criticism. Booing Ashley Cole is actually important in redressing the balance between supporter and player.

criticize the team you oppose or criticize the team you support outside of the match. Booing is not a show of support therefore not something 'supporters' should be doing.

Should Ashley Cole have been booed?

Yes because... No because...

Cole needs to be taken down a peg or two

As one fan put it Cole ‘is a bit of a t***’, and clearly in need of taking down a peg or two. Indeed, he was recently voted the number one most hated footballer by Sun readers. His controversial transfer from Arsenal to Chelsea, his notable snub of referee Mike Riley during a match against Tottenham, his autobiography and, allegedly, telling one woman that ‘she should be privileged Ashley Cole was sick in her car’, show him to be no gentleman on or off the pitch. It is important that Cole realises that such behaviour is no longer tolerated by the British public.

Should Ashley Cole have been booed?

Yes because... No because...

It is important to separate the team player and cheating husband of the gossip magazine with Ashley Cole, England player

Whilst one may disapprove of Cole’s alleged behaviour with Aimee Walton, and question the extent to which his meeting with Chelsea directors was accidental, this does not mean that we should not support Cole when playing for England. It is important to realise that he is, when playing for England, flying under different colours which should be respected. His (and his wife’s) prominence in gossip magazines should not impact on how he is received on the pitch. Rio Ferdinand was right: it is ‘crazy that a section of our own supporters are booing one of our own players’.

Should Ashley Cole have been booed?

Yes because... No because...

Booing creates a bad atmosphere and could affect the performance of other players

As a Newcastle United supporter, I would say that your argument has an endogeneity problem when it comes to player performance.

For example: If I were to boo Nicky Butt for his inability to complete a pass, it could negatively affect his performance and those of the team. But the only circumstances under which I would boo Nicky Butt is because of his poor performance (and out of a reasonable expectation that it will not improve, based on years of total ineptitude as a footballer).

If Nicky Butt were capable of producing a decent performance, then no one would boo him.

As Steven Gerrard put it, for England to be successful in future, ‘we need them [the crowd] with us’. Despite the protestations of the other players, it is difficult not to believe that the crowd’s booing when Cole went for the ball did not adversely affect his performance on the pitch. Cole’s poor back pass alone would not have cost England victory, but the negative atmosphere could have done. As Frank Lampard put it, ‘you can be the most strong-minded player in the world, but when that happens to you and you’re getting booed, it makes your game a little bit tougher’.

Should Ashley Cole have been booed?

Yes because... No because...

The mistake was minor and did not affect the result of the game.

Yes, Cole is widely regarded as one of the best left backs in the world. However, everyone (even professional footballers) make mistakes. David Beckham, for instance, famously getting sent off during the World Cup of 1998, may have ultimately cost England victory, yet he has not continued to be pilloried for his mistakes. Everyone is human, after all.

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