It’s Monday and once again racism in football is making the headlines. This problem simply won’t go away, but it’s not from lack of trying. The strongest condemnation by players, coaches and administrators has not made the slightest difference. Fines and bans don’t seem to work either. Could the problem be that the clubs and the Football Association (F.A.) are more interested in money?
Back in the early 1970s when the first few black faces were seen on a football field, they were subjected to constant, and what can only be described as merciless abuse with every touch of the ball – the clubs and the F.A. were silent.
As Britain became a more multicultural society it dawned on the clubs that they were missing out on a large section of the public who could be paying to watch football. This was especially true as more teams featured black players. Now, the “kick out racism” campaigns started, and things improved.
Headlines are made when a black player accuses a white player of racial abuse. But it has reached the point now that accusations are sometimes questionable – a subtle form of revenge. Leaving false charges aside, why didn’t we hear of this type of incidence 10, 20, and more years ago? The answer is, no one complained. Today however, highly paid superstars just won’t take it. The clubs and the F.A. take notice because these stars attract vast sums of money to the game and they have to be seen to be taking “strong” action.
Incidences of racial outbursts between players on the field are wrong; however, the obscene premeditated, unprovoked chanting that comes from hundreds in the crowd is far more disgraceful. This mind numbingly hateful behaviour can be heard in many parts of Europe. The action taken by the football authorities is wholly inadequate. Playing matches behind ket qua bong da closed doors could force the clubs to take effective action to limit the problem; but money comes first.
There is no doubt clubs would cry out that such drastic action would put them under severe financial pressure. They complain about paying for adequate policing. The reality is that these clubs would not be under any pressure and could easily pay for more police if they were not paying players of all colours such obscenely high wages.
I wonder how many of us are encouraged by the idea of an “Anti-Discrimination Action Plan” which contains 93 points, and will “recommend that clubs bring in a mandatory anti-discrimination clause in all players’ and managers’ contracts?” Racism is endemic in our society; therefore, can anyone seriously expect the national obsession with football to be any different?
In the heat of the moment when a player – regardless of colour – puts in a vicious tackle, should anyone be surprised if a hurtful comment is made, even a hurtful racial comment? I am not in any way condoning such a response, but I would like to put it into perspective. Suppose the response was to make an even more vicious tackle without a word spoken, will the issue of race come up now?