Criticising others seems hypocritical
13 December ~ In the build-up to Euro 2012 the English media carried several reports of racism among fans in Poland and Ukraine, including Sol Campbell warning supporters to stay home or risk coming back in a coffin. In the end the tournament was held without any major incidents of racism, although it is still unclear what happened during Holland's first training session when some players claimed there had been monkey chants while the manager, Bert van Marwijk, said it had not been an issue. Ukraine and Poland proved themselves to be excellent hosts.
There are problems with racism in those countries but compared to recent months in the Premier League there is no question which country comes off worse. At the end of September the England captain, John Terry, was banned for four matches for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand. Last month a Chelsea fan was arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated offence for what appeared to be a monkey gesture. Since then three more people have been arrested for similar offences at Sunderland, Swansea City and Manchester City.
I moved to England from Sweden in 1995 and was immediately struck by how multicultural England was. I had always thought that Sweden had a very open-minded and educated population but soon realised that the Swedes were – and still are – far behind England when it comes to attitudes towards black people in particular. Still, I was surprised when I read in Pete Davies's excellent book All Played Out that English players were racially abused in Sweden during a World Cup qualifier in 1990. I do not think anything similar could take place now and there was outrage in the Swedish press when AIK's black players were subjected to racial abuse by some of CSKA Moscow's fans in recent Europa League matches.
After England's recent Under-21 qualifier in Serbia, the full-back Danny Rose said: "I had two stones hit me in the head when I went to get the ball for a throw-in. Every time I touched the ball I heard monkey chants." In the end he lost his cool and kicked the ball into the crowd. Instead of launching an immediate investigation, the Serbian FA completely refuted that there had been racist chanting and called Rose's behaviour "inappropriate, unsportsmanlike and vulgar". The FA general secretary, Alex Horne, responded by saying that the events in Krusevac had led to the governing body "questioning the validity of sending a team to Serbia in the future".
It is not the first time the FA has hit out at other countries regarding racism. At the moment, though, it needs to look a little bit closer to home. The above-mentioned incidents in England in recent weeks are not isolated. On Sunday, after Manchester United's late win at Manchester City, there were racist tweets towards Rio Ferdinand. In August a man was arrested after sending racist tweets to the West Ham striker Carlton Cole. In February a Manchester United supporter was charged for shouting racist abuse at a Stoke City player during a Premier League match. The list, sadly, goes on. To deny there is a problem with racism in English football would be to completely undermine any position from which to condemn other countries as well as actually dealing with the problem. Marcus Christenson @m_christenson