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Yossi Benayoun – Judas?

The Israeli international, usually remembered in England for his time at West Ham United and Liverpool, but not Chelsea, was called a Judas by Chelsea fans. The inference being that because he is now an Arsenal player, and supporting his current team, he is a traitor.

Yossi Benayoun played only eleven times for Chelsea. He made no connection, association or pact with Chelsea football club, less so the fans. Whilst at Chelsea he was often injured or unwanted. When needed, for example whilst the club was in the grip of a crisis in the winter of 2010, he was usually injured, and when available, he was usually not required.

If Yossi Benayoun is a traitor then who knows what type of word might best be used to describe Ashley Cole, a player who made the same transfer move only in the opposite direction. Ashley Cole was an Arsenal youth team player and then went on to make almost 250 appearances for the senior side. Ashley Cole was associated with Arsenal. He had the adoration of the fans and the history and service to justify his inclusion in the team even when he played badly. He understood Arsenal fans and they understood him. He was one of their own.

When Ashley Cole left Arsenal to go to Chelsea, swapping the history of Highbury – where Arsenal then played – for the new money in the west of the city at Stamford Bridge it was widely acknowledged he was following the money, believing Chelsea offered him more financial security and more chance of future professional success. Arsenal fans were aggrieved for a number of reasons. Calling Ashley Cole a Judas, as many Arsenal fans did, was obviously still overstated but, in relative context, somewhat understood. Ashley Cole had abandoned what he once claimed was his own in the search for something else.

Yossi Benayoun, the thirty one year old who has played at several clubs, never had any type of connection to Chelsea and the Blues fans never even alluded to one. Why then did some of them then proceed to call him a Judas? His departure barely raised an eyebrow amongst football fans and Chelsea hardly appeared desperate to keep him. In fact, if rumours are to be believed, it appears the management staff at Chelsea actively pushed Benayoun out of the door. Benayoun’s signing for Arsenal ought to have been received with casual indifference. Certain Chelsea fans did their club no good service at all by calling Benayoun a Judas. Benayoun is still even registered as a Chelsea player, having signed for Arsenal on a season’s long loan.

The labelling of Benayoun as Judas happened on twitter after the Arsenal player celebrated his team’s victory, 5-3, against Chelsea on the weekend.