The ‘racism’ keeps on coming..

English: John Terry in action for Chelsea FC

Image via Wikipedia

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 Alan Hansen was clumsy in handling a sensitive topic and used outdated language that showed his age, but was not in any way malicious.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 suffic
e 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.


7 Comments on “The ‘racism’ keeps on coming..

  1. You are a fine writer but the premise that “LFC have said that racism is essentially ok” is simply not true. Two seperate statements, one from the club and another from the players, have articulated clearly their objection to racism.

    You are implying that supporting Suarez means condoning racism which is frankly ludicrous. It also assumes therefore that Suarez is a racist. Ignoring for a second the fact that LFC clearly feel a miscarriage of justice has occured, it it absolutely possible to support Suarez without compromising their position on racism. The club’s response is intented to provide some support to a player, colleague and friend who, until the full facts are known, will be, and indeed is being, vilified across all media outlets in a notoriously hostile environment and media atmostphere.

    You may feel that the way the club has chosen to represent its support is ill-judged (I dont) but it is entirely incorrect to say that they in any way advocate casual racism.

    If, and this a big if, the facts reveal that Suarez knowingly and repeatedly racially abused Evra with express purpose of abusing him then i am sure that LFC will respond accordingly. The fact that they have so vehemently opposed the FA’s verdict would suggest that, as they are one of the few parties to know all the facts, the facts do not bear this out.

    Far too may outlets are rushing to judgement here. The Daily Mirror yesterday splashed the word “Racist” over a picture of Suarez, despite, again from leaked information, both the FA and Evra clearly stating this is not the case.

    I find it incredible the cynacism that has accompanied LFC’s response rather than anyone evaluating it in a balanced fashion. It is entirely possible that they feel Suarez has been wrongly found guilty, that the process was flawed and that the appeal will be successful.

    Judgement on LFC, Suarez and all other parties should be approached with caution until the facts are known.

    • Hi David, ta for the compliment on the writing!

      I did put in the caveat ‘as long it’s not serious racism’. I’m not saying that Liverpool FC outright supports racism, it clearly doesn’t, but the attitude taken by the club in the whole affair and the attitude of many many Liverpool fans is, well, dodgy. Personally I think Liverpool have handled the whole thing extremely badly and the whole Suarez t-shirt thing was the icing on the cake. The club has effectively said that nothing untoward has gone on here. The evidence presented to the FA and their subsequent judgement indicates something untoward did happen. To say that there’s nothing wrong is to condone by omission.

      The facts are known, they are known to the FA and were used to come to a conclusion at a panel. I’m not entirely sure what people are expecting in terms of ‘the facts’ and revealing new evidence. It was a process that was handled very carefully by the FA, who then handed out a punishment fitting the facts as presented.

  2. Ok – regardless of the caveat, your assertion that LFC supports any type of racism is not accurate. You cant just take the t-shirts as their only response to the issue in isolation. They have issued two formal statements condemning racism. As i said, supporting Suarez is not mutually exclusive to opposing racism in all its forms.

    Personally as i mentioned earlier i think the club’s response has been designed with the wider media in mind, rather than simply responding to the FA.

    For me i ask myself, why would the club respond like this if Suarez was banged to rights? I mean in an age with so may smart, PR people at the club, surely if Suarez was so blatently guilty they would have just issued a curt apology and moved on?

    The fact that they are fighting this so strongly suggests to me that more is to come, hence my referral to the fuller facts of the case becoming known.

    I’m not trying to convince you of my point of view. I think we are both beginning with a different premise (you think the FA’s decision is correct, i remain skeptical).

    But i would suggest that LFC, a club with many smart people who have handled extremely sensitive issues in the past with grace and dignity, would not respond in this way without good cause. They are simply not that stupid. There has to be more complex issues, which due to the absence of known facts and the repetition of rumour, leaks and innuendo, are yet to come to light.

    • It’s precisely because we all assume that Liverpool would have an experienced and capable PR team that I’m pretty surprised that they haven’t done a better job. The statement by the club uses accusatory language without being brave enough to accuse Evra of anything, and is quite a good example of veiled whatabouttery. The whole ‘he has black friends’ schtick is laughable. I think the best and most thorough take on it is here: The player statement is bland to the point of not being worthy of comment, the t-shirt incident is the sort of thing Liverpool players used to do for striking city dockers (sorry, that’s a touch cheeky I know).

      I still fail to see what sort of facts there are that haven’t been revealed. I appreciate that, in terms of wider public knoledge, we may not have the full picture. But the FA have had everything presented to them in order to make their judgement. I don’t see what else Liverpool are going to pull out of the bag to say ‘aha! this disproves your findings’. If they have that sort of info in their possession, what on earth are they doing sitting on it? Why didn’t they present it at the hearing in the first place and go through all this palaver?

      Unfortunately, people can be stupid. People are often stupidest when their backs are against the wall and they feel they have to stand their ground when actually saying ‘look, my bad, sorry, let’s learn from this and move on’ would be the best option. At the risk of speculating (f*** it, let’s speculate! It’s fun!) Liverpool stood by their man initially, believing he was innocent of wrongdoing. They then stood by him as further info emerged and some doubts grew. When it came to the crunch they had no option but to go all out in supporting one of their absolutely key players, even though the evidence was against him and the FA ultimately found against him. I do wonder what the club attitude would’ve been if this had been, to pick a random squad player I can think of, Jonjo Shelvey being accused.

      • : Our support of Patrice was oboivus right from the word go and that’s still the same. The matter is over and I think we’re satisfied that they [the FA’s independent commission] found the right decision. This wasn’t about Manchester United and Liverpool at all. It was nothing to do with that. This was an individual situation where one person was racially abused. Liverpool maintain that was not the case, despite Sue1rez reportedly admitting using the word negro , and are now waiting for the commission chairman, Paul Goulding QC, to deliver his full written findings before deciding whether to lodge an appeal.Dalglish: The statement couldn’t have caused anybody any trouble. I don’t think the players have caused any trouble with the FA either with their statement or by their support with the T-shirts. If we are not in any trouble, we will just leave it at that before we do get into any trouble. I think it’s straight forward the team should ban the player for life!

  3. It’s good to read a few different views on the Suarez affair. Personally – and I’ve blogged about it if you fancy a read – it’s not the suspension that should generate any debate. If Suarez is guilty then eight games is hardly extreme. I just find it hard to believe that the FA have seemingly taken one man’s word over another, especially when that individual is Patrice Evra – not the most trustworthy of characters and someone who has had to previously retract racist accusations.


  4. Pingback: Hansen’s Blunder in Racism Row | Cbcburke9's Blog

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