The ‘racism’ keeps on coming..
Things move fast in the world of football and dodgy racial relations. By the time our post on Suarez was up yesterday on the Suarez affair, everyone was starting to move on to John Terry. And while many were contemplating the impact of the John Terry
case a whole load of people moved on to Alan Hansen’s comments on Match of the Day.
Whatever you think about individual cases (some of yesterday’s blog comments showed how important club loyalty can be to an issue) it seems that racism is still an issue in football. The punishment handed out by the FA to Suarez shows that it is willing to punish racist language with a severe penalty. The fact that the CPS is involved in the John Terry incident and it is going to court indicates that what happened was deemed of enough potential seriousness to warrant criminal proceedings. Alan Hansen was clumsy in handling a sensitive topic and used outdated language that showed his age, but was not in any way malicious. I’m pretty sure an apology
will suffice but as an experienced broadcaster you can’t help but think he should have been more considerate given the nature of the issue.
When a club with the standing and profile of Liverpool and a decent sized section of their fans essentially say that racism is ok, as long it’s not really serious racism, then that’s disturbing. When someone like Stan Collymore is on the receiving end of some horrendous racial abuse on Twitter for ‘daring’ to speak out about racism in the game then you know something is wrong. When the CPS is getting involved in something that happened on the pitch and when the FA is handing out 8 match suspensions to players then things are getting out of hand.
All this adds up to a need for football to have a proper conversation about racism within football and how to deal with it. Organisations such as Kick It Out have done some fantastic work over many years. The change in attitudes over the last 30 years has been a credit to football and in the UK we are miles ahead of some other European countries in terms of that. But we shouldn’t rest on our laurels, there’s still a lot more to do. What that is I don’t know. It won’t be just the one thing that advances it, but a series of smaller things that add up. A softening of hardline ‘my club right or wrong’ attitudes can help people see the bigger picture in individual cases. Being able to speak out against racism and challenge it within grounds without fear will help as well. But football doesn’t exist in isolation and racism is a problem that society as a whole has to tackle. It’s not easy and it’s not simple, but then anything that’s worth doing because it will change things isn’t easy or simple.
- English Soccer Authorities Unite in Fight Against Racism (nytimes.com)
- Alan Hansen apologises for Match of the Day race gaffe (mirror.co.uk)