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England must accept it has problems with racism

Criticising others seems hypocritical

icon racism13 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

On the subject...

Comment on 13-12-2012 20:45:11 by Sean of the Shed #741080
Who is denying there are problems with racism in English football? Are you saying the FA cannot highlight appalling abuse and physical assaults on their players when representing them abroad because they are not convincingly dealing with issues under their own jurisdiction? Why are the FA responsible for racist tweets toward players when they can be sent from any location at any time? That is a legal matter to be persued by the police. This article seems to be a long winded effort at saying "people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones".
Comment on 13-12-2012 22:23:35 by zbiginho #741099
It seems to me the author is missing a serious point here, namely that in England nowadays even a 15 year old kid who posts a racial tweet will be arrested. Whereas the impression one gets from Serbia is that the authorities there do not have any willingness to even pretend to tackle the problem. There is a clear discrepancy in how the issue is handled between the two countries, and i do not think England comes off looking the worse at all.
Comment on 14-12-2012 06:41:35 by jameswba #741155
Have to agree with the first two comments. The author mentions the Terry case. Well, the point is that an exhaustive legal process was - rightly - gone through to determine what happened and how, resulting in a ban for Terry. The same in the Suarez case. In nearly all the cases of racist gestures, tweets etc by fans mentioned in the article, people have been arrested and/or charged.

The Serbian authorities, in contrast, have not only tried to deny that anything untoward happened at that England game, they have even tried to paint the victim as the aggressor.

On the specific question of the tweets, the problem here is (far) less with the FA than with a network that makes it possible for any old idiot to disseminate his twisted sentiments at the push of a button.
Comment on 14-12-2012 07:56:42 by geobra #741162
I think that we should distinguish between racism that is football's responsibility and racism in society that spills over into football. The Terry and Suarez cases were a problem for football and football alone. Racist fans are a product of society, and it is difficult to see what clubs can do to guarantee that they will not enter stadiums. When applying for a season ticket, you are not asked to state your political affiliations. Of course, once their presence in the ground is noted, everything should be done to keep them out. But football should not be blamed for the fact that they were there in the first place.

We should remember that racist bigotry and antisemitism predate football by centuries, and considering the millions who follow the game, it is inevitable that a few (hopefully only a few) will fall into these categories.

It is a sad fact that any problem arising during the course of a football match is blamed on the game even when the game is in fact a victim. In these hard times football is offering those in power a convenient scapegoat for their failure to solve some of society's ills.
Comment on 14-12-2012 08:51:18 by jameswba #741173
'The Terry and Suarez cases were a problem for football and football alone.'

Not quite, since the Terry one was first tried as a criminal case.
Comment on 14-12-2012 09:32:42 by geobra #741180
That's true, and I stand corrected. But my main point is that clubs have, or should have, more control over the behaviour of their players than over what some fans choose to utter on the terraces. Chelsea can be blamed for not stripping Terry of the club captaincy but not for the fact that they may have some racist fans. Even so, their weak response in the Terry case sends out an ambiguous message to any racist element there may be among their fans. They had a chance to strike a real blow against racism, and they blew it.
Comment on 14-12-2012 14:59:54 by Coral #741287
I think most of the points already made are spot on. My only addition would be that, to my eyes, it appeared that the Serbian abuse was more wide spread. It was not a couple of lone nutters. In the English examples given it is player on player or some loon sat on his bog directing an offensive tweet.

If the author of this article genuinely thinks that at Carrow Road had a large section of the crowd been seen to make monkey gestures, chants, and throw objects that the FA would have defended those people and been highly aggressive to the Serbian FA rather than being unreservedly appologetic, then I will accept his argument.

Clearly more needs to be done by the English FA, but as has been hinted at already it is society's problem far more than the FA's. I might be going a bit too far now, but I doubt it is something that generates much hand wringing, or even any sort of attention in Serbia that few of their managers are black in their domestic leagues.
Comment on 14-12-2012 15:00:55 by gintsr #741288
Maybe Chelsea reaction can be such because very big chunk of (ex-)soviets and/or russians are more or less racists so Abramovich didn't see big deal with Terry case.

Yes, I'm also ex-soviet and, yes, I think racism is ok.
Comment on 14-12-2012 17:39:01 by geobra #741366
If the last sentence of the above comment is serious, ahould it not be brought to the attention of the moderator?
Comment on 14-12-2012 18:15:06 by gintsr #741391
I understand that UK have not First Amendment or something similar but I don't think that even UK PC-mad legislation have as something unlawful point of view.
Comment on 14-12-2012 18:36:46 by Sean of the Shed #741403
Gintsr is entirely free to state this, just as we are free to call him a repugnant piece of shit.
Comment on 14-12-2012 19:03:47 by geobra #741414
Doesn't the sentence 'racism is ok' break the house rules?
Comment on 15-12-2012 08:53:00 by Cesar Rodriguez #741601
geobra wrote:
I think that we should distinguish between racism that is football's responsibility and racism in society that spills over into football. The Terry and Suarez cases were a problem for football and football alone. Racist fans are a product of society, and it is difficult to see what clubs can do to guarantee that they will not enter stadiums. When applying for a season ticket, you are not asked to state your political affiliations. Of course, once their presence in the ground is noted, everything should be done to keep them out. But football should not be blamed for the fact that they were there in the first place.

We should remember that racist bigotry and antisemitism predate football by centuries, and considering the millions who follow the game, it is inevitable that a few (hopefully only a few) will fall into these categories.

It is a sad fact that any problem arising during the course of a football match is blamed on the game even when the game is in fact a victim. In these hard times football is offering those in power a convenient scapegoat for their failure to solve some of society's ills.


I sympathise with pretty much everything you say - these idiots would be idiots regardless - but haven't you ever found yourself wondering why football seems to attract a higher percentage of them than just about any other sport? I've watched a large number of Rugby Union and NBA games live and its noticeable how fans from opposing teams sit alongside one another, engage in a little banter but by and large refrain from getting aggressive, confrontational or rude, nevermind throwing out racial epithets. What makes people act a certain way at football and a different way at other sporting events?

In my opinion football fans really need to get a sense of perspective and chill out with all the abusive, neanderthal nonsense, its childish. Moreover anyone with an ounce of intelligence can see through the machismo/bravado. Enjoy the game without becoming so invested in the outcome that you lose sight of its relative unimportance in the grand scheme of things.
Comment on 15-12-2012 10:07:23 by geobra #741626
El Tel - I think you're saying that part of the problem is that in football the result is everything, and assumes a significance far out of proportion to its real importance.

You're probably right, but where does this come from? I would argue that the media has a lot to answer for when you consider the treatment of the Norwegian referee after Chelsea v Barcelona and the Swiss referee after one of England's tournament exits. It is they who pour fuel on the fire instead of taking the 'it's only a game' line.

I'd like to point out that there is a site which details violence by spectators in sport round the world since 1879.If it is to be believed, Aussie Rules leads this particular table, and there are plenty of examples of violence at Baseball, NBA and NFL games, and at cricket matches in the sub-continent. Fan violence also took place at the final of the 1924 Olympic Rugby Union tournament. So we shouldn't generalise

Maybe football attracts more than its fair share of neanderthals because it is easy to understand. You need to have a first class honours degree to grasp the finer points of rugby!
Comment on 15-12-2012 10:34:16 by Uncle Toni #741628
gintsr wrote:

Yes, I'm also ex-soviet and, yes, I think racism is ok.


But are you an idiot? Because if you're unsure, the answer is 'Yes'!
Comment on 15-12-2012 11:57:38 by Cesar Rodriguez #741641
geobra wrote:
I'd like to point out that there is a site which details violence by spectators in sport round the world since 1879.If it is to be believed, Aussie Rules leads this particular table, and there are plenty of examples of violence at Baseball, NBA and NFL games, and at cricket matches in the sub-continent. Fan violence also took place at the final of the 1924 Olympic Rugby Union tournament. So we shouldn't generalise.


I've been to dozens of NBA games and barely seen a police officer in the stands let alone any examples of fan violence and thats with no segregation! Ditto Rugby Union, there's just no comparison with football I'm afraid.
Comment on 15-12-2012 12:00:06 by geobra #741642
More to El Tel.

Funnily enough, just this week Gianni Petrucci, head of the Italian Olympic Committee, said exactly the same about football and perspective. Atalanta defender Guglielmo Stendardo took three days off to sit an exam that could result in his becoming a qualified lawyer, and in the process missed the 3-0 Coppa Italia defeat away to Roma. The club threatened fo fine him instead of holding him up as an example to young players of how not to waste all the free time they have. Fortunately wiser counsels seem now to have prevailed, but a lot of damage had already been done. Sometimes football really does shoot itself in the foot, or, as Petrucci pointed out, take itself far too seriously.

Today's 'La Gazzetta dello Sport' had a letter describing some verry bad fan behaviour in sports halls that host basketball matches, and even the case of a cross country coach deriding runners from another team at a schools meeting. No sport is immune, it seems.
Comment on 15-12-2012 15:16:55 by geobra #741688
El Tel (again!)

My intention was to point out that fan violence has a long history and is not confined to football, not to suggest that it is as common in other sports as it is in ours. We should also take into account that football is far and away the most watched, played and reported game in the world. This probably contributes to the impression that there is more violence than there actually is when you consider the millions of matches that must be played every year.

On the question of non-segregation in NBA, I was under the impression that because of the enormous distances in the USA there were few if any away fans at matches, which would obviously reduce the possibility of trouble.

I think that if it was another sport that had the worldwide appeal of football, it would probably have the same problems with fans.

Last week, though, a piece in La Gazzetta dello Sport made a day out at the Emirates sound like a footballing utopia compared to Italy! Sometimes it's all to do with perception.
Comment on 18-12-2012 15:21:54 by Gangster Octopus #742460
This sort of thing hasn't happened for a long time over here.
Comment on 18-12-2012 16:02:29 by Kill Apartheid Racism #742482
Joey Barton makes some very good points in The Big Issue about racism in its worst manifestation, Apartheid Racism, and he has the guts to take on this difficult issue. There is a need to deal with this issue, and in other trade unions we resolved the matter by introducing “self-organised” groups to deal with the issue that apart from Joey Barton few people tackle. Such Self-organised groups within the PFA such as “black players group” and “Gay players group” and maybe other self-organised groups as and when the need arises, would then be democratically controlled by the group members, who would have seats on the Union Executive, put forward policies and candidates Etc. at full meetings of the PFA executive. There is also an issue of democracy within the PFA to be dealt with.
Jason Roberts, Joleon Lescott and Rio Ferdinand and his brother Anton are the beacon of light that highlighted the Cowardice, Hypocrisy, Opportunism as well as closet racism at the very highest levels in our institutions, that are the evils that prevent the elimination of racism in our game and in our society in general. They know the personal difficulties their stand will cost them, (as Drogba discovered, when he and 62 others signed a letter condemning the decision to allow Apartheid Israel to host the U 21 finals in Israel in June 2013), at the forefront of the fight against racism in all its manifestations, and in particular its worst extreme expressed as Ethnic Cleansing, Apartheid and institutionalised racism. It is at the top of law making and law maintenance institutions, and governments are able to punish and silence the opponents of these extreme forms of racism.
David Cameron now confesses that the racism of The Thatcher Government for infamously conceding only ‘a tiny little bit’ in the face of Commonwealth pressure for sanctions against South African Apartheid Racism was wrong. The Metropolitan Police have been shown to be institutionally racist. The Met Chief Mr John agreed on BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Without a doubt. There is no two ways about that”
This apartheid racism has the full support of David Cameron and his British Government. His support of Apartheid Racism is no different to South African apartheid racism that had the full support of Margaret Thatcher. .
The reaction of the European governing body for football UEFA to this open Israeli Apartheid racism was not one of condemnation. UEFA actually rewarded Israel Apartheid Racism, a NON EUROPEAN country by;
• Allowing Israel to take its Apartheid Racism into European competitions
Including the European Nations Cup
The world’s most prestigious club competition The Champions League
Entrance to the Underage competitions (reinforcing the acceptability if racism)
• awarding it exceptional privilege of hosting the prestigious UEFA U 21 Football finals in June 2013.
Each of these young men selected to play in Israel will know in his heart that he should not be tolerating or playing with apartheid.
Each and every player of every Under 21 team thinking about going to Israel will be aware of this Cowardice, Hypocrisy, Opportunism as well as closet racism at the very highest levels that gives succour to racism, but they complain at their peril, at the cost of their entire career. They will all be aware of what happened to Justin Fashanu, when life became impossible. They will no doubt be reminded “to keep politics out of sport” which at best implies that racism and in particular its worst manifestation Apartheid Racism is “political” and as such footballers, and football fans should allow the people we trust to control the game to institutionalise and imbed racism at the highest level not only as wholly acceptable, but that racism must be rewarded, in a way that South African Apartheid never was, with the privilege of hosting prestige tournaments.
It is this Cowardice, Hypocrisy, Opportunism as well as closet racism that Jason Roberts, Rio Ferdinand and his brother Anton are referring to when they refused to wear the ‘Kick it Out’ “T” shirts. They know, as all of us, who are committed to the elimination of all racism and discrimination know, as do those who are not committed to the elimination of racism and discrimination that the “Kick it Out” event of wearing a “T” shirt for a few minutes is a mere sap to the campaign against racism. They and I and millions who want a real commitment from everyone involved, or should I say everyone who should be involved with the elimination of racism, to take real concrete steps to eliminate this scourge from our lives.
Jason Roberts and the Ferdinand boys are the modern equivalent of African American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos who stood up at the 1968 Olympics and chose the pinnacle of their careers not to celebrate their personal achievements but to highlight the curse of racism. All of these men made a great personal sacrifice, but will be remembered in history books long after football matches and UEFA competitions and winners are forgotten, because these men changed the course of history for the better.
Lets hope that the subtle but brave message by the T shirt Three of Jason Roberts and the Ferdinand boys, that the “T” shirt campaign is merely a “concession ” by institutionalised racism to opponents of racism, to keep opponents quiet, will be the defining moment in the battle to rid football and our society at large of the curse that is racism. David Cameron must not become the modern Margaret Thatcher by remaining the die hard to lead the fight in defence of Israeli Apartheid, because that is where the buck starts his run, and spreads his odour on every institution that comes within range of his powers. If Cameron fails to stop the buck, it will maraud through our institutions, where it will again become institutionalised and deadly.
Let’s hope that there is a Tommie Smith and John Carlos and a Jason Roberts or a Ferdinand boy selected to play in the racist Apartheid State of Israel next June, and that they too will make history by refusing to play with Apartheid, or lend succour to apartheid by presenting it with the prestige of their presence in Israel for the sole purpose of lending legitimacy to Apartheid racism.
Please provide Joleon Lescott, Jason Roberts, The Ferdinand boys, Joey Barton or anyone else who supports their brave stand with my email address so that we may cooperate to give black players a bigger voice at every level of football including the PFA. The Black Self Organised section of the PFA can be up and running in a few months, with Rio, Joleon, Jason, or Anton as its secretary. From there they can with your help completely reform the PFA, and together with RED CARD ISRAELI APARTHEID we can put racism where it belongs – in the dust bin of history.

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