Football fans throwing money to beggars causes outrage

Their is a videogoing around showing fans of a Dutch football team tossing money to poor women in Madrid Spain and laughing as they grab for the change.

From the site:

A video shared to Twitter shows fans of the football club PSV Eindhoven throwing money and laughing at Romany women in Madrid’s Plaza Mayor prior to last night’s match.

I’d like to ask, does anyone on this board know much about this team or its fans, the area of Madrid Spin where this happened, or the Romany women?

PSV Eindhoven are the number two team in the Netherlands after their sworn rivals Ajax and they’ve been fairly successful, most notably winning the European Cup (the World’s most prestigious club competition) in the 1980. In recent years though dutch teams have not been able to compete with the financial clout of the big European leagues, thought this year they managed to make the knockout stage of the Champions League (the successor to the European Cup), where they were narrowly knocked out by Athletico Madrid last week.

The team have traditionally strongly been associated with Philips electrical/electronics manufacturer as they started out as the company team. Philips still provides support to the team in sponsorship and other forms. The fans I wouldn’t say have a terrible reputation, though they have had problems with violence in the past (but this hardly makes them unique among football teams). They’ve also had controversy due to antisemitic chants from some of their fans, including this season. However I would caution against seeing this as evidence of an undercurrent of a racial ideology among fans, it’s primarily a rather disgusting way of getting at Ajax, who are proud of their traditional Jewish connections.

Romania has one of the largest populations of Romany in the World and they are among the most marginalized people in Europe. When recently freedom of movement in EU applied to Romania, a significant number of Romany left for the richer Western countries. However due to their lack of marketable skills, lack of knowledge of the local language and culture and the continuation of their traditional itinerant lifestyle, they have become a ubiquitous nuisance in the larger western European cities, engaging in begging and petty crime.

So what probably happened is that football fans in a group are hardly noted for their civility and compassion (and PSV fans have clearly proved they are no exception) in a tourist destination in a foreign city being harassed by professional beggars from a very marginalized group and reacting in an compassionate and ill-considered way.

Replace “being harassed by” with “in the presence of” and strike out “compassionate and” and I think you have it.

I don’t know what happened, but bars/pubs with seating on the street are prime targets for beggars. You have drunk people who can’t just walk away either, plus the operators of the bar can’t eject the beggars as they’re out of their sight and on a public street.

I actually meant to type “uncompassionate”.

I have mixed feelings about the beggars. On one hand they certainly come from a background of poverty and are very marginalized, but on the other hand it’s not because they are destitute - its almost always organized because begging in cities like Madrid is very lucrative and when the money is sent home it translates to a small fortune. There’s also the petty crime that goes hand-in-hand with it and the disregard for the local population.

ABUSING Romany Women???”

Piss-shit lying garbage.

I’ve been reading alot of the same, basically that people that are knowledgeable of the situation have little sympathy for the Romany because of their reputation.

It has not just been those PSV fans in Madrid. There have been several incidents across the continent in the past few days where soccer hooligans went out of their way to mock and degrade beggars.

In Madrid, those PSV individuals were throwing small coins and openly laughing at the beggars in Plaza Mayor.

In Rome, a Sparta of Prague follower pissed on a beggar. And in Barcelona, a group of Arsenal fans openly mocked a beggar in the street (with some reports saying that they burned banknotes in front of him).

Be aware that not all those beggars were Romani, either. The only ones that apparently were (Romani) were the ones in Madrid. The others were locals.

I think it is not so much that the hooligans thought “these are gypsies and they have a possibly deserved horrible reputation”, but a more general “beggars are not worthy of pity” attitude. An article in a very respected Spanish newspaper posits that this kind of actions came from thinking that “poor people are poor because they don’t want to work and pull themselves out of their situation, and thus are not deserving of charity”. It may have been a factor, as well, that all those hooligans were from another place and would not expect to hang out at Madrid, Rome or Barcelona for long.

All in all it has been sad, really.

There was a big outrage about this in Dutch papers. Everyone thought it was shameful, but everyone also agreed that no-one was really hurt. Except the reputation of the PSV team and the Dutch. The clip came online because a spanish reporter had followed the team with her camera, perhaps expecting similar bad behavior like recently in Rome.

The beggars are the kind of professional, pushy and sometimes conning/thieving beggars every tourist guide warns against. They were not made to do anything they didn’t want to do, and could have left any time. One was encouraged to do push-ups in the street while the drunk fans threw coins on the ground around her. They don’t seem to be much concerned about their dignity, because the Romani regard non-Romani ( Gadjo’s) as an inferior outgroup anyway.

One reporter went back the next day and the same women were there again, recalling the past day as a "good"day.

She wanted to do push-ups in the street?

For extra money, apparently yes. She could have given them a stink eye and walk away, but she didn’t.

But fwiw, the Dutch are fed up with the phenomenon of these drunk loud soccer fan groups. Many are blacklisted since the Rome incident.

Maybe she really needed the money.

It is good to know that beggars, in Southern Europe, are not like the USA homeless population. Not the teensiest bit of overlap. Especially Romani beggars are professional beggars, pure and simple. Any tourism guide book will have ample warnings about these beggars. A typical warning will be like this.

Maybe, maybe not. One thing that is certain, that giving money to a professional beggar will extend the circle of poverty and self- segregation of these people. Here’s a link to a study of begging Romani kids in London.

Giving to a person down on his or her luck is a good thing. Giving to a professional beggar isn’t.

The operative phrase, which you apparently missed, was “They were not made to do anything…”

That’s great. Our abominable abusive behavior stopped short of literal forcible compulsion, check us out, we’re fine people.

The newspaper today had a follow up article. Five people guilty have been identified and have been heard. They lose access to the soccer games for a couple of years. They all old experienced major backlash. One of them lost his job. A spokesperson for the soccer club has said they all have apologized.

Paying people who are working for money comes fairly low down on my list of “abominable abusive behaviour”, even if it does include drunken laughter.

Where is it on mine?

Jimmy Chitwood, it was in the NRC, here.