The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on football fans cannot be easily forgotten. This saw leagues being suspended first and then matches occurring behind closed doors before it was possible for fans to be allowed back into their beloved stadiums in limited capacities.
By the turn of the year, 2022 has seen almost every major football league host matches with 100 % capacity across Europe and fans have made it a point to make sure that they create a strong enough atmosphere to show as if they had never ever left.
Clubs too have been delighted to have their fans back, playing the role of the 12th man during tense games. One cannot imagine Real Madrid’s incredible second-half comeback against PSG last week without the Madridistas getting behind the team at the Bernabeu, thus reaffirming the value they bring even in influencing results.
But this return back to the now overflowing cauldrons across Europe has also brought along its own share of problems. There is a sharp rise in the trend where fans, especially parents and their children attend matches with homemade boards and banners that ask for a player’s match-worn jersey to be donated.
While this sounds like a sweet enough and deserving reward for faithful supporters, in many cases, the same fans have been spotted online putting up these memorabilia for sale in an attempt to score a great profit.
This trend continued as recent as during Arsenal’s PL fixture against Leicester City where numerous boards were held up in the likeness of fans at a WWE event inside the Emirates.
the sign plague needs to stop pic.twitter.com/a8jH9v2DLB— ben (@B3nlcfc) March 13, 2022
The picture shows the presence of numerous boards held up primarily by Leicester supporters who are seen asking for shirts of players such as James Maddison and Luke Thomas.
Alongside these seemingly innocent requests for jerseys, in some cases, parents have also sent out their children running onto the pitch in a more direct attempt at securing a piece of souvenir. But this was really crossing a line and it was quickly dealt with as clubs such as Leeds United began issuing stadium bans for parents opting for this practice.
Without an end in sight for the ‘sign plague’, perhaps clubs should begin cracking down to reduce their large presence inside stadiums to maximize viewing experience for all fans.
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