Football, like any other activity involving a vast cross section of the human race, frequently exposes its slithering underbelly in ways that were probably left in the 1980s when hooliganism was at its peak. It's not difficult to find the absolute dregs of society abusing players in the stands or over social media when a player underperforms — or simply exists, in some cases.
It's a disheartening reminder that the so-called beautiful game is not so beautiful, which is why recognizing positive behaviour by fans is so important. For all the ways in which they screw up on a regular basis, this recognition is one thing the FA gets right each year during their annual Respect Awards that recognize individuals and teams that promote respect and fair play in English football. Twelve awards were giving out this year, and while West Ham won the Premier League Fair Play award, Liverpool fans were awarded the Premier League Supporters Awards.
"This has been a long-term commitment to tackle worrying trends and it is clearly having an effect," said FA Chairman Greg Dyke on the reasoning for holding the awards. "The Respect [Award] winners have led this change."
The idea of awarding fans a fair play award might seem silly to some, but in a year in which Chelsea fans have been banned for life from Stamford bridge due to a racist chanting incident at an away match in Paris, it's clear that basic concepts of respect are still lost on many in the football community. Liverpool fans certainly aren't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but by whatever metric the FA uses to calculate fair play amongst fans, it's heartening to know that Liverpool are top rather than bottom of the list.