Have Your Say On the Rashford Banner Debate

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Pizzas are seen left next to a Mural of Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford after he receiving a MBE created by Artist Akse on November 07, 2020 in Manchester, England.
Pizzas are seen left next to a Mural of Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford after he receiving a MBE created by Artist Akse on November 07, 2020 in Manchester, England. | Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Online, fans have debated the best way to honor Marcus Rashford’s work to feed needy kids at Anfield — or if he should be honored at all.

The Manchester United striker has the respect of most football fans due to his efforts in securing food for children in poverty in the UK over the past year, with Rashford spending time and energy challenging those in power to better provide for children in need. As fans were allowed back in stadiums this past winter, the suggestion that Rashford would be applauded by those in Anfield emerged online and met with very little debate; it seemed as though rivalry would be set aside to briefly honor the player’s off-the-pitch actions, with a Manchester United player being set to be applauded pre-match Anfield — an absolutely incredible turn of events if the wider context is removed.

Due to an uptick in COVID-19 cases in the UK, however, fans are no longer in the stadiums, and there is no quick way to recognize the player’s social justice efforts — if one feels they should be recognized at all. This has become a debate on Twitter and Facebook over the past week, and opinions vary following a report that a banner might be coming to recognize Rashford’s work.

There are three potentialities being discussed: a banner on the Kop; a banner in the Anfield Road End (or just pre-match); or, nothing visible for Rashford — a belief that he should be respected for his work only on days where he doesn’t suit up to play against the Reds.

To first focus on the last option, many believe that though his efforts are worthy of respect, the proper way to show appreciation is not in a derby, and definitely not with a banner. Indeed, many are disgusted with the idea that a Manchester United player would be recognized in Anfield at all — imagine, some suggest, Rashford scoring in front of his banner in a match the Reds very much need to win: a distasteful picture to a number of LFC accounts online.

Those who believe nothing should be done to visibly honor Rashford are themselves in split camps: some believe Reds should show him no respect (whether it be applause in the ground or recognition of his work online) while many believe other action should be taken to contribute to his cause — perhaps in pre-match foodbank donations or a banner focused on feeding children — without the use of the Manchester United star’s name, specifically.

Of course, some feel there is no place for “politics” in football, a debate that rings somewhat false in the face of Liverpool’s own history. These people feel (presumably) that all political banners in the Kop should be removed, let alone adding a banner to honor a Manchester United player. There is also a suggestion that those who might support a banner in any part of the ground don’t “get” the club or the city (though this litmus test is itself challenged by many self-proclaimed Scousers, too), as well as arguments that his discussions with the S*n newspaper despite widespread criticism disqualify him from any plaudits, at least on Merseyside.

Still others seem not to get what the uproar is about, or at least not during a pandemic: exceptional times call for exceptional responses, after all. Hunger sees no club colors, these people believe, and what Rashford has done is unprecedented, and thus calls for unprecedented responses.

The discussion is rich and varied (though it is online, so there’s always going to be a level of trolling), with well-articulated points made in each of the many options. Where do you stand?

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