Tuesday, June 20, 2017

When Death is on the Line


Last week, when Donnarumma turned down his contract extension, it felt like the end of the world for Milan fans. But as the events have unfolded and information has been shared, it turns out there was much, much worse. Raiola behaving badly. Management behaving badly. But most of all, fans behaving badly. And not just the usual criticism, harassment, bullying, abuse, and threats. Fans actually threatening the lives of Donnarumma and his family. And that was even before he turned the extension down. People have dismissed or even argued about those threats, saying that they didn’t exist or that they were “just words.” But it is never appropriate to dismiss those things when death is on the line.

Sorriso sempre

Everyone has offered opinions on the whole affair, but after Raiola and Fassone spoke, several things became clear: First, the negotiations were rushed. Second, both parties agreed that there were no actual negotiations on release clauses. Third, Donnarumma was abused by fans and there were death threats on he and his family even before the decision was given. Even the Curva Sud acknowledged and distanced themselves from the threats. Those were the reasons that Donnarumma declined the extension. Aside from all of that Raiola played his usual games. Fassone disparaged Raiola and Donnarumma while defending Mirabelli. Both sides talked about money, yet it was made quite clear that money wasn’t the issue for Donnarumma. Also, everyone stood to lose money with this outcome: the club, the player, and yes, even Raiola.

But the fans took things to a whole new level. First they demanded answers. Then when given them, they refused to accept them because of their prejudice against Raiola. Even still they are demanding that Donnarumma come out and speak for himself, despite being on U21 National Team duty. That, of course didn’t stop a few entitled fans from protesting the U21 Italy-Denmark Euro match with a protest that stopped the match, affecting the other 21 players on the pitch and everyone in the stands and watching on TV with their petty protest of one player. But additionally, they made complete fools of themselves when their money-themed protest was rendered pointless and naïve when it was made clear that none of this was actually about money. But hey, good thing they got their fifteen minutes of fame at the expense of all of those other people.

One decision they don't like from their hero and they turn into psychopaths

The abuse on social media was incomprehensible. Even people who challenged the abusers where abused. There was no logic or reason. Most people simply reacted, without any of the facts, and reacted hysterically and maligning Raiola and Donnarumma. The immature money-themed social media hashtag was tediously applied everywhere by fans who just weeks before claimed to love this 18 year old player. There were posts demanding he make an immediate decision, calling him names, inciting violence toward him, making threats, disparaging his family. And that was before the decision was even made.

But the death threats… they are never just words. Despite the fact that many who make them are prepubescent boys with acne spewing hate because their mom grounded them or middle-aged men who live in their mom’s basement spewing hate because their mom stopped doing their laundry for them, the hate is real. Maybe most of those people wouldn’t ever act on their threats, because their moms wouldn’t let them. But what if one of them did do something? There is a reason that law enforcement agencies worldwide take every death threat seriously. Because it’s never “just words” when death is on the line.


Clearly, I was mistaken to ask on behalf of a group of deranged and entitled keyboard jockeys


With so much information available so quickly, fans have become very entitled. Odd that they haven’t been able to learn to distinguish information from misinformation. So many twisted views, shaped by people on social media who claim to report the news or even just happen to have large followings. The media doesn’t help, of course as journalistic integrity is as extinct as the dinosaurs. For example, somewhere, someone reported that the death threats came from the club. Which is ridiculous. While initially, it seemed the club didn’t take them seriously or protect their own player from any of this, they would never threaten their own player. Who even believes that? Oh yeah, fans. The same fans who abuse, harass, and threaten under the false and entitled notion of “expressing anger.”

But most disgusting beyond the death threats are the fans who simply dismiss them or claim they don’t exist. At what point did we lose our humanity so completely that death threats don’t even make us stop and question anything? At what point will fans realize that their constant bashing and bullying actually created the environment for those death threats? And that by following, liking, and retweeting or posting comments from these cyber sociopaths, you are an accomplice to their actions? Social Media is not a video game. Words do actually hurt people in real life. And not just psychologically. There is nothing to dismiss when death is on the line.

Challenge where his heart lies, you don't have to threaten to stop it from beating

We have learned a lot about this experience, though. And no one involved is blameless. This renewal was supposed to be a test for Fassone & Mirabelli. And even if their other mercato signings to date have been A+ material, this is one test that they failed. Hopefully they have learned something here. As mature as Donnarumma is for his age, he has been forced to grow up much too fast in all of this. Whether or not he will reconsider or whatever the outcome is from this, his innocence is definitely gone. Mino Raiola is a terrible excuse for a human being. But for all that he has done to destroy football, exploit the careers of young players and get as much money as he could for himself, he has never threatened to kill anyone.

And that makes you, Milan fans, worse than the man you criticize most in this.


This post inspired by the music of Ludo’s “Love Me Dead”

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