No self-respecting human being could question Jake Livermore’s decision to scale the London Stadium stands and confront the piece of work who allegedly hurled insults about his dead son towards the West Brom midfielder.
Lower than a snake’s belly, the West Ham United fan now – if found to have said what the 28-year-old, his club and those sitting around him suggest – must surely be banned for life.
But there’s a suggestion that the FA may still need, as a matter of course, to follow procedure and sit down with the England international.
It has yet to be ruled out that the governing body could ban him, for jumping into the stand and attempting t confront the supporter, spitting his bile at him from the comfort of 20 or so rows back. A guy who thought it was a safe distance.
He was wrong. Thanks to mobile phones and tighter ground controls, it took the Hammers just a few hours to identify him.
The Football Association will have a big issue on their hands should they feel the need to suspend Livermore. Accused before of a lack of compassion, banning a player for responding to what could be, by then, proven sick provocation, would cause uproar.
But the FA have already shown they don’t lack direction when it comes to subjects of this nature. Last year, they banned a non-League footballer for sending disturbing and outrageous tweets to AFC Bournemouth’s Harry Arter, taunting him over the loss of his stillborn child.
Hitchin Town’s Alfie Barker, 18, posted a vile statement on social media following Arsenal’s 3-3 draw at the Vitality Stadium a year ago.
Barker was subsequently banned from all football for six months. The West Ham fan, if found to have said such horrendous things, should never be allowed in a football stadium again.
It brings a wider talking point about social standards when some hear the click of the turnstile on a match-day.
Football used to be the working-class game, a safe haven to let off the frustration of a busy week by shouting any obscenity you can set you mind to, at people you will never meet in your life.
In times gone by, nothing was off limits. Racism was commonplace, as was homophobic abuse. Young children and families attending games weren’t as regular, and accountability even rarer.
Most people have let off steam on the terraces, but there can be no excuse for walking into a stadium and thinking you can get away with taunting a player about such an event. It’s a miracle that the fan in question wasn’t shown the error of his ways by someone within ear-shot, even if Livermore himself couldn’t get to him himself.
All eyes are on West Ham and the Football Association to see what happens next.
One needs to be allowed to carry on as normal, the other allowed nowhere near a ground again.