It’s a scene that will make you want to coo “aww”: four-year-old Manchester United fan Louis Diamond’s emotional breakdown when told Robin van Persie is joining Fenerbahçe went viral, and now a fundraising campaign has started in Turkey to send him to see his idol play in Istanbul.
Friend, resist that urge. This generous outpouring of simple human decency could have serious long-term consequences.
First, there’s the danger that it leads to a rash of copycat videos the next time a star is sold. “Waaah, David De Gea gone Real Madrid. Wanna go Bernabeu NOW, MOMMY. Take me Bernabeu NOW. Waaah!” Never underestimate the cynicism of people eying a free vacation.
We don’t want YouTube polluted with hundreds of videos of cute infants in tears, clogging the site. What if there’s no more room on the servers for clips of cats falling off tables and Russian car crashes? (Word of advice for the summer of 2018: consider taking the train.)
Second, this is seriously harshing the buzz of ABUs (Anyone But Uniteds) around the world. How can you possibly take pleasure in setbacks for the club, like the on-the-cheap departure of a declining and expensive former great after a trophyless season, if it provokes this reaction in infants?
Most importantly, Louis needs to learn that big-time soccer is a ruthless, cold-eyed business in which players are used up then brutally discarded. He needs to know that the kind of irrational passion and unquestioning loyalty he shows in that video is mined by calculating billionaire owners for profit.
So the natural state of the soccer fan is not to find that emotional devastation is allayed by an international spirit of charity and camaraderie. It’s that your club, and/or its players, will inevitably make you cry, and cry until the tears stop of their own accord. And you either accept that as the cost of fandom and carry on – or stop caring and live a more balanced but less meaningful life.
Or just change your favorite player every year, picking someone you know won’t be sold. You’re four years old, I think you can get away with that. Because that’s part of being a fan, too: every season there’s always fresh blood, new hope, new heroes.