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The Ugly Side Of The Beautiful Game

Saturday 5th November 2011
In the past few weeks, the Barclays Premier League has been marred by allegations of racism coming from all quarters of the “beautiful game”. The media do their best to persuade us that it's ‘a one off', and is ‘usually confined to Italian and Spanish football' but in reality, most football fans are well aware of the issues involving race and football. Unfortunately, some are even contributing towards it. Is it really any surprise to find Luis Suarez calling Patrice Evra a term that should have died with the abolishing of slavery? Are we at all shocked by the video evidence suggesting England captain John Terry called Anton Ferdinand a “Black C***”? I for one am not surprised or shocked by either - just disgusted.

The latter case is probably one of the biggest examples of racism in Premier League history, and is all the worse for the evidence (shown here) which backs up the claims. However it isn't the first such examples of racism in the modern game. In 1991, Crystal Palace chairman Ron Noades claimed that “The black players at this club lend the side a lot of skill and flair, but you also need white players in there to balance things up and give the team some brains and some common sense”. In 2008, a small number of Newcastle fans chanted “He's got a bomb” at Egyptian striker Mido. In 2009, Jason Euell was the victim of racist remarks from a Stoke City fan, leading the then-Blackpool striker to say he was “hurt” by the remarks, and stating “racism in football is not dead and buried”. So it would seem that football has not advanced or outgrown such racism in the past 20 years. But is it just football? Or is it society in general which has failed to fully deal with and eradicate racism in this country?

The most recent example of racism in English football hasn't come from a stadium, or even within the context of a game. Newcastle's young striker Sammy Ameobi, younger brother of Shola, is the latest in a long line of victims. However, the 19 year old, who is of Nigerian descent, received the abuse after posting a picture of his new boots on social networking site Twitter. The culprit has since deleted his @JonnnnyPhipps username and account, but was arrested along with another teenager for the tweet, seen here. Racism has been brushed under the carpet for too long in this country, passed off as a rarity and an exception to the usual diversity. This just simply isn't true though. I have lost count of the number of times a ‘fan' has used the term “black” as a pre-cursor to insulting one of their own players for something as simple as a misplaced pass. Go to a match and you will witness much the same yourself.

Now, without getting too political, we may be heading into 2012, but this country is still stuck in the caveman era when it comes to race and diversity. This is shown by the attitudes of fans, such as the Chelsea fans response to the Anton Ferdinand accusations, singing “We know what you are”. Too many supporters, many of whom struggle to find the money to meet the ever-increasing ticket price demands, are happy to blame the foreign man, or in many cases, just the non-white man will do. This problem has existed for decades, and is not exclusive to football. England, as a country, has a major problem with racism, one which has been ignored for years by both government and public, and exacerbated by media coverage highlighting issues of immigration. The hypocrisy that Chelsea fans could sign such chants toward Anton Ferdinand whilst simultaneously supporting black stars such as Didier Drogba, Daniel Sturridge and Ashley Cole to name but a few. However it isn't confined to Chelsea fans, and this fact in itself worries me, and should worry you too. This is why racism in the English Premier League does not, and for the foreseeable future will not, surprise me. Regardless of political viewpoint, do we, as fans, want to see the best players in the world playing for our clubs, in our league? Of course we do. Then we must make a conscientious effort to welcome players of all colour and creed, or risk similar issues as in Spain and Italy where players won't play in their leagues for fear of racial abuse from fans.

If you wish to ask any questions please feel free to tweet @greglarmouth.
Greg Larmouth

Total articles: 9

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