The past week has been like a blast from the past, and not in a good way, with a number of issues coming to light that have painted English football in a bad light in terms of racism.
Thirty to forty years ago racism in football was rife and players were heckled from the terraces just because of the colour of their skin. It was not too long ago that one of England’s greatest ever players, John Barnes, was exposed to sickening abuse from supporters at away grounds up and down the country.
Racism in the past
This was a man who had scored one of the greatest ever goals by an Englishman when he beat countless Brazilian players on a mazy run in the Maracana in 1984 to score for his country, and yet people still abused him because of the colour of his skin.
I remember witnessing the abuse that Barnes received first hand and it still fills me with horror that people were prepared to act like they did. This week the ugly side of racism has reared its head once again and has produced a few incidents, which have been highlighted, that are totally unacceptable and are a reminder of the past.
A minority, it must be said, of Chelsea fans in London and Paris were accused of racially abusing fellow commuters whilst travelling to a Champions League game last week. At the weekend West Ham supporters were then accused of anti-Semitic chanting at their game against Tottenham.
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Both incidents have made headline news and have done nothing for the credibility of football fans all over the country. Although these acts have been carried out by a minority of supporters it is still a reflection on football fans in general.
New QPR boss Chris Ramsey said that racism is a daily occurrence and is still rife but this should not be acceptable. We all must make a stand against it before it once again gets out of control.
Tuesday has seen Cardiff City refuse to send any representatives from their board to the game at Wigan as they believe that their opponents are managed and owned by racists.
Wigan owner Dave Whelan was fined £50,000 for making racist comments about Jewish and Chinese people and served a six-week ban from football recently, whilst current manager, and former Cardiff manager, Malky Mackay is under investigation by the FA regarding allegations he sent "sexist, racist and homophobic" text messages during his time in charge at the club.
I was in a pub only this week when an elderly gentleman blamed the fact that he couldn’t hear the bar attendant speak because the Chinese students in the premises were too noisy! Was he serious? Yes he was.
It was one of the most ridiculous statements I had ever heard. What did this man base his assessment on? Racism was the only conclusion I could come up with, especially when he himself admitted to the barmaid that he shouldn’t really say stuff like that.
Football the mirror
Football, it appears, is mirroring these underlying problems in our society. Without wanting to involve sport and politics too much it cannot be helped when parties like UKIP are encouraging people to revolt against anyone who is not English.
Surely we cannot allow this to continue. This underlying current in football and in society needs clamping down on immediately otherwise the consequences could be catastrophic and result in a return to the dark ages.
What we don’t want is a return to the 1980s, when racism from the terraces was considered the norm.
In Europe England have been considered as the country at the forefront of the fight against racism in football. Whilst some countries, such as Italy and Spain, still have issues, England appeared to have a society that was multi-cultural and welcoming to all nationalities.
The FA, alongside the football clubs, need to act immediately to make sure that the hard work over a number of years is not wasted by a few mindless idiots.
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