#Football fans seem to be back in the news again for the wrong reasons, after the appalling scenes at a match in Belgium on Sunday, where a banner was unfurled at the start of the game that depicted the decapitated head of former Standard Liege player Steven Defour, on his return to his former club with bitter rivals Anderlecht. In a blatant form of provocation and aggression, the deeply offensive banner also included a man with a sword in his hand and the shocking headline "Red or Dead" alongside. The image had been likened to that of the main character in the horror film Friday The 13th, although many in Belgian have subsequently reacted differently by associating it to the recent beheadings in Syria instead, and as such have voiced their disgust.
Unsurprisingly, the Belgian Football Association have reacted in outrage, not just at the extremely bad taste of the imagery, but also because young children would have seen the banner. A leading representative, Thibault De Gendt, voiced the understandable sentiments that: "We hope never to see this again".
Twenty-six year-old Defour, a Belgian international who represented them at the last World Cup, is a relatively new 6m euros recruit for Anderlecht having joined them only last summer. He played for Standard for five years, including time as the club captain, before joining the Portuguese club Porto in 2011.
He clearly found the message unsettling, as the midfielder was sent off in the game for two yellow cards, the second resulting from his frustrated re-action of kicking the match ball into an area where the home fans were situated. That delighted the home fans even more, but triggered the away fans to react by throwing seats on to the pitch. Defour later took to social media to apologise to both the Anderlecht fans and his fellow players for getting himself sent off, in a match Anderlecht subsequently lost, although he did not agree with the referee's decision.
There had been high tension throughout the match, a reflection of what many viewed as being typical of the hostility for a derby between the two teams. When Defour's name was read out over the loudspeakers before the match, it was greeted with loud boos from the home side. The visitor's keeper was not exempt from the provocation neither, as shortly after the game had started he was showered with objects that were thrown from the crowd. #Society