Talking Point: Getting Shirty
ANOTHER WEEK, another non-football talking point: when will this circle end? Obviously I`m aware that by writing an article about a non-football issue I`m pouring yet more fuel on the fire I`m complaining about, but it would be rude not to have my two pennies worth on the Kick it Out t-shirt scandal.
There are a number of issues within this is a wider theme, chiefly that enough isn`t being done to stamp out racism in some quarters, however my point is that the situation is no-where near as bad as the press would have you believe.
I have no doubts that those behind the campaign, which has run for a number of years now, are passionate in their work of promoting the message of racial equality. I have no doubt that the players who wear the t-shirts year-on-year are equally keen to see the end of racism within football for good.
However, what I firmly believe is that racism in English football is not a massive issue. There were two isolated cases within a few weeks of one another last season - John Terry/Anton Ferdinand & Luis Suarez/Patrice Evra - but, because of the indecision of the Football Association & the subsequent criminal proceedings brought against Terry, we`re still talking about the issue.
The fact of the matter is that the Premier League is very predictable. We know that this year`s winner will come from a select group of three - United, City or Chelsea. We also know that that won`t change any time soon.
Therefore, anything of vague interest that happens off the pitch becomes extremely newsworthy all of a sudden & is blown out of all proportion by print & broadcast journalists bored of talking about the cakewalk that is the title 'chase`.
That issues of racism are newsworthy is indicative of the fact that we in the United Kingdom have moved on from the seventies and eighties, and are now in a place a million miles away from countries like Serbia in terms of racial equality.
It remains the case, and will for many years to come, that there are still some mindless idiots out there who are racist; who will abuse players from ethnic minorities. But is one idiot in 50,000 such a problem? Nine times out of 10, football fans will self-police and stamp this idiocy out.
I`m not justifying isolated cases of racism, but they are just that, we do not have the same inherent issues that we did 30 or 40 years ago, and those who choose to abuse a player because of the colour of his skin are very often not racists. They see red in the tribal state that is football and take 'banter` to the next level.
The same goes for footballers, caught up in the heat of the moment. It doesn`t make it right, but that`s why it happens.
Let`s face it. Football fans up and down the country take great pleasure in labelling Welsh football fans as 'sheep s******s`, and there is a thin line between that and calling a player a f-ing black so-and-so.
We all know where the line is, but a small, neigh miniscule minority overstep it. Any right-minded person wants to leave in a world where racism is dead; a thing of the past, but in reality that time is generations away. In the mean time we should be grateful for the right-minded, liberal majority that attend football matches up and down the country.
Regarding the boycott of the 'Kick it Out` t-shirts, Rio Ferdinand and the 29 other Premier League players who refused to wear the t-shirts were barking up the wrong tree.
Kick it Out want an end to racism, as do the Football Association/Premier League; but it`s the former doing all the work, and the latter with all the power.
If the Football Association/Premier League are serious about bringing an end to racism within football for good, they have to set punishments that will serve as a deterrent.
Like UEFA, who this week gave Lazio a 40,000 Euro fine for racist chanting, players & fans who racially abuse one another get an easy ride.
If a player racially abuses a player, regardless of how many times or to what 'severity`, give them a three-month ban and fine them three months wages. Hit them where it hurts. The same goes for fans. A five year ban from all football matches, properly administered (unlike Aaron Cawley), will make them think twice in the future.
And, whilst they`re unable to attend/play, ascertain whether or not they are inherently racist. If they are, educate them. What`s a deterrent worth if the same warped beliefs still remain post-ban?
It`s time to end the easy ride for racists.
What do YOU think? Is there a big problem? Are punishments too soft? Are Kick it Out doing enough? Let us know by commenting below.