Again, football has been dominated by one issue in the last week or so, and indeed over the last year.
I’m not referring to the fact that a toddler’s got more chance of finishing a bowl of soup with a plastic fork than Luis Suarez has of finishing a decent chance. And No, it’s not even the question as to why the Wayne Rooney who plays for Man United seems a master class away from the one who turns out for England. Nor is it the fact that Harry Redknapp continues to make the rest of the pundits on Match of the Day look like chumps of the highest order.
No, it’s race. And racism. And what to do about it.
When Jason Roberts said he would not wear his “Kick It Out” T-shirt on Saturday, he sounded more like a lone voice in the wilderness. Well, that was until a handful of players decided to follow suit, with the most high profile of these being Rio Ferdinand. It looks like Roberts, Ferdinand et al are disassociating themselves from a campaign that almost every other footballer has signed up to and undermining the consensus. So the question is ‘Why?’
Well, the amount of money the Kick It Out campaign receives would make a football agent blush. In 2010-11, this figure was less than half a million pounds, or 2 weeks of Carlos Tevez’s wages. Or the daily rate for John Terry’s lawyers.
Let’s face it, Kick It Out hasn’t played an enormous role in the recent issues surrounding the Uruguayan tumbler and the Chelsea skipper – and yes, despite everything, Terry remains the club captain. That’s just embarrassing. That might have something to do with why some black players don’t think the race issue is being addressed properly. I read in one statement released by Kick It Out that;
Kick It Out said it “works in partnership with the game’s governing bodies” and added: “We are not a decision-making organisation with power and resource as some people think, and can only work effectively in the context of these partnerships.”
So, in other words, we are not up to much really. In actual fact, we can’t do anything, however, we do promise to go round and ask people to be nice to each other, but if they choose not to be, we are sorry, but we can’t help. Frankly, If I was a black player I would also start to wonder what the point of the whole thing was. I could almost compare it to our good friend Sepp Blatter, a man who so patently treats the game with contempt, urging football to get behind this Respect campaign. It takes a lot more than a few handshakes and some nice tee-shirts to imbue respect and anti-racism.
As for criticism, i feel it needs to be highlighted whether it’s Serbian fans, John Terry or Luis Suarez. The unequivocal call to ban Serbia for failing to ensure their fans behave in a non-racist way seems logical. However, I can’t remember the same righteous logic being applied to banning Chelsea or Liverpool for having high profile players using racist abuse. Chelsea were even involved in a cover up according to the FA. If teams deserve sanctions for their fans behaviour, and most of us agree that they do, then what sort of punishment should a team get when their captain, leader, legend is guilty of racism. Like I said, suddenly with the matter is closer to home, people’s judgement appears to become blurred. Not so easy is it?
Let’s be clear, racism in British football is nowhere near the issue it was when Clyde Best was enduring obscene chanting, not least from the terraces at Ayresome Park. Old ‘Arry was right about that on Match of the Day. But that’s still no reason not to stamp it our where you find it.
And if Kick it Out isn’t helping then what is the point of it?