Story by Robin Popley
Afternoon everybody and welcome to my second outing of Editor’s Insight. In light of recent events and remarks, I felt a piece on racism in football, was highly essential. Hopefully, you will join in with my belief that we should no longer tolerate or condone such actions, on and off the pitch!
‘Kick It Out’ was set up as a formal organisation (and campaign) in 1993, to try and overcome previous problems with racism, in the English game. Since then, clubs have to their credit, embraced its principal and have set aside fixtures whereby the campaign is at the heart of the days pre-match and half-time entertainments. It should also be noted that the scheme has enabled several footballers from all backgrounds to now come through at youth-level and onto first team action.
One such example is Emile Heskey with my club Leicester City. However, here arises the problem, for a city which is renowned for being a cultural hub: it is somewhat surprising that only two Asian players have worn the Blue shirt of Leicester, with one being a signing from overseas.
It isn’t the fact that we haven’t had first team players – like Heskey – from all backgrounds (Dion Dublin and Frank Sinclair to name but two) but in a City that has a now, mainly, Asian population – disconcertingly – these players at Sunday League level aren’t being promoted to the highest levels. THAT’s not to say my club are racist either. For years we have been regarded as one of the best for ‘Kick It Out’ but why isn’t the FA producing more footballers from these backgrounds? Moreover, why is it joked that in every team or – general community – we have ‘token’ ethnic backgrounds? In mainstream advertising, television shows? Remarks like these were supposedly outlawed in the 1970’s with ‘Love Thy Neighbour’ so how have they been allowed to arise again?
It’s simple. In light of the recent John Terry trial, even the Crown felt that although it is likely that Mr. Terry had committed some standard of racial slurs against Anton Ferdinand, there wasn’t sufficient proof to deem a conviction / fine. It should also be added in light of the former’s eldest brother’s remarks, in conjuxion with Sol Campbell’s pre-Euro 2012 fears and Clark Carlisle’s brilliant series on BBC Three, people in and outside of the game now feel this problem is once again surfacing.
The whole point of the ‘Kick It Out’ campaign being set up, was to prevent a throwback to when English clubs were prevented from participating in European competitions, due to these racial slurs. Furthermore, Uefa’s ‘RESPECT’ campaign was introduced into the game to enhance fairplay and minimise issues such as racism, in this modern era. Yet, it is almost shamefully, failing at the point of delivery. It is time to RESPECT!
I leave you all with a message highlighted by England’s most famous black-player, John Barnes, in the 1990 World Cup song; World in Motion.
Thank you for reading;