Confession: I was over an hour late for Yom Kippur services this year because I couldn’t bare to miss the end of a West Brom match.
I’m sure there are more elaborate ways in which I could describe my personal relationships with both Judaism and West Bromwich Albion, but I think the fact that I spent the morning praying for Gareth McAuley’s header instead of my soul probably sums up the gist of things rather well. I’m definitely a nice Jewish girl, but if my rabbi told me to go on a transcendental pilgrimage, I would be far more likely to end up at The Hawthorns than the Western Wall.
Ergo, I don’t think it’s an understatement to say the club’s non-reaction to Nicolas Anelka’s quenelle gesture has put me in something of a moral bind. I want to support the club I love, but their refusal to issue a real apology or remove Anelka from first-team selection makes that somewhat difficult. How am I meant to cheer for my team when I’m aware the striker feels a sense of ‘solidarity’ with a man who thinks it’s a pity my family weren’t gassed to death in concentration camps? How can I possibly celebrate a goal when I fear the person responsible for scoring it wishes I didn’t exist? I know most people would tell me to just forget about the incident and show my support for the club, but that’s not so easy to do when their actions indicate a belief that anti-semitic hand gestures are nowhere near as offensive as Peter Odemwingie tweeting in a car park.
Perhaps if I supported a different team, my expectations wouldn’t be so high, but I know West Brom are better than this. After all, part of the reason I chose to be a WBA fan was due to their history of challenging prejudice. Moreover, when I made the journey from my home in Michigan to The Hawthorns last Spring, I was so warmly received by the other fans that I reckoned no club could ever be more welcoming than my own, and I was certain I belonged there.
Come on, West Brom; tell me I wasn’t wrong.
Rachel: Offence In Some Quarters