Forget about Kick It Out, the new slogan for English soccer’s anti-racism and sexism campaign needs to be: Kick Them Out.
“Them” being the racists, sexists, xenophobes and homophobes that plague the Football Association, its teams, fans, players, referees, coaches and ownership groups that continue to give the beautiful game a black eye.
In case you missed it, the latest incidents in England this week have increased the levels of outrage amongst the rest of us - in the sane world - who are forced to listen these commonplace hate-filled ramblings, comments, tweets and denials (inadvertent or otherwise) from football’s power brokers.
Wigan owner Dave Whelan caused a storm of controversy this week after his ridiculous comments about Chinese and Jewish people were made public.
Whelan has since apologized for saying that Jewish people chased money and that there was “no insult meant” when English people call people from China a “chink”.
But wait for it… even his apology hit a sour point when Whelan the classic old-school defence that he never intended to offend anyone and he has “hundreds and hundreds” of Jewish and Chinese friends. Ughhh! What was he thinking? In the aftermath of his latest comments, many are now urging Whelan to resign.
On Friday the FA launched an investigation into Whelan’s initial comments, but it is remains unclear what type of punishment is forthcoming given its track record of handling racism and equality issues.
Like most of us living in the real world, Cardiff owner Vincent Tan was disgusted with these latest comments and slammed Whelan and recently hired manager Malky McKay as racists.
MacKay is currently under investigation by the FA for allegations that he exchanged racist and homophobic texts with then colleague Iain Moody.
“This is a racist chairman hiring a racist manager. I hope that stops at two racists in Wigan, not snowballing to 2,000 or 20,000 racists in Wigan.” ~ Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan
England’s anti-racism group Kick it Out also condemned the comments questioning whether Whelan was the “fit and proper person” to run Wigan.
Others, such as Hull manager Steve Bruce, actually came to Whelan’s defence claiming his comments were taken out of context and the 77-year-old chairman “is no racist at all.”
The problem could very well be that many, like Bruce, not to even know the true nature and definition of racism to begin with. Thus by attempting to defend those who make racist and bigoted comments, those who do so magnify and make the original comments even more hurtful.
England manager Roy Hodgson was let off the hook by the FA ahead of last summer’s FIFA World Cup despite referring to black players on his team as “space monkeys” during halftime of an international friendly against Poland.
Ask Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure his feelings about racism in football. The Ivory Coast international was the target of racial abuse from Arsenal fans earlier this month and called the incident “disgrace”.
Meanwhile news that the number of black and ethnic minority managers in English football has actually declined this year adds more fuel to the fire that the game has a serious problem. Even though those of ethnic minorities make up 30 per cent of the BPL player registry the number of black or minority owners is currently a big fat zero. It is time for owners like Tan and others to take a leadership role and for once hire a non-white manager.
It’s not just the football industry and its fans who have a problem, even England’s private-school educated media aren’t immune to this serious problem.
This blogger was shocked while watching a Premier League match in Canada to hear an English-based match commentator declare that Newcastle defender Fabricio Coloccini was running around the pitch like “a wild Indian”. An incredibly hurtful comment to the many native Americans who may have been watching the match in the United States or Canada and aboriginal people across the globe.
Wake up BBC and SkySports commentators you are now broadcasting to a global audience that doesn’t share the same views about ethnicity, religion and race.
We don’t need to look very far back to find more evidence that claims of racial abuse have been constantly fumbled or swept under the rug by soccer officials.
In 2012 we saw nasty allegations of racist comments by referee Mark Clattenburg levelled at two Chelsea players, the eventual suspension of former Liverpool striker Luis Suarez for racial abuse directed at Manchester United opponent Patrice Evra, and Blues captain John Terry’s racial abuse directed at an opponent from Queen’s Park Rangers.
The words of former English International striker Les Ferdinand about the 2012 events still resonate when we look at this week’s incident:
“The FA have let a lot of black people down…Well, every black person who is interested in football.” ~ former English striker Les Ferdinand.
Last spring Kick It Out announced the results of a survey which determined that racism and homophobia are “rife in the game.”
As Ferdinand, Tan and countless others have properly pointed out, other professional leagues in the world zero tolerance for racist comments by an owner, executive, player or coach.
The National Basketball Association forced former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling to sell his team and banned him for life after his derogatory comments about blacks surfaced on TMZ.
If that wasn’t enough, also this week it was revealed that English Premier League referee Michael Oliver has quit his role with the Northumberland Football Association after the body decided not to further punish boss John Cummings any further following his comments directed at Oliver’s wife, Lucy May, that “a woman’s place was in the kitchen and not on the football field.”
The time is now for the FA to take a stand against the all-too frequent derogatory insults and racial slurs from its Man About The House/Archie Bunker elements that appear to still have a firm grip on the game in England.
The first step in someone overcoming a serious problem is admitting it exists in the first place. Unfortunately we are still waiting for the drunken power brokers in the sport (not only in England - but around the world) to admit they have a problem. Then maybe the healing can begin.