Thursday, December 22, 2011

Luis Suarez for Liverpool (v Queens Park Rangers), 10 December 2011

It's been a good week for racism in football. Luis Suarez has been banned by eight matches and fined £40,000 for racially abusing Patrice Evra whilst Chelsea and England captain John Terry faces a racially aggravated public order charge for allegedly abusing QPR defender Anton Ferdinand in a match in October.

Both men could be guilty or both could be innocent. I suspect there are lots of people who would like to see Terry found guilty of his charge - not least because he epitomises almost everything that is wrong with paying chavs millions of pounds a year for kicking a ball about -although he is innocent until proven guilty and the courts will decide his fate.

What is extremely unpalatable is the way in which both clubs - particularly Liverpool - have reacted to these claims. Let's not forget that Suarez has already been found guilty by an independent tribunal which means (appeal pending, of course) that he has been found guilty of using racist/abusive language during a match.

Imagine you'd been found guilty of racist/abusive behaviour towards one of your colleagues at work. Do you imagine that your boss and all your colleagues would turn up for work the following day wearing t-shirts with your name on as a show of support? Do you expect your company would have made a statement condoning the decision and questioning the integrity of the person who made the allegations?

Of course they wouldn't. Let's face it - you would be lucky to keep your job at all. There are lots of companies that would march you to the front door with your belongings and sack you immediately for gross misconduct. They would also release a statement saying that racist behaviour cannot be tolerated and that these sorts of harsh measures have to be taken in order to eliminate this problem.

And that is why it's been a good week for racism in football. It's all very well for the FA and other bodies to hand down serious punishments for racist behaviour - and potentially the courts in Terry's case - but if the employers such as Liverpool continue to defend the actions of their players it shows that the clubs really don't care about taking racism seriously.

The Guardian hits the nail on the head when talking about the decision by the Liverpool team and management to wear t-shirts supporting their striker before Wednesday's match at Wigan: "This was a high-profile international found guilty of racist abuse 24 hours earlier and, raging with a sense of injustice or not, as Liverpool clearly are, they were inappropriate gestures at this stage of an already damaging saga".

In many ways Terry's case is similar in that it shows how different a footballer is treated in his situation than the rest of us. Again, say you had been charged with a racially aggravated public order offence having allegedly shouted racist abuse at someone in your office or in the streets. You'd subsequently been charged and have to appear in court next year.

Do you think your employers would jump to your defence? Do you think they'd continue to let you be the spokesperson for your organisation (or indeed your country) as Terry is as club as national captain?

Of course they wouldn't. What would happen is that you would be suspended from your job immediately the allegations were made. If found innocent you'd be reinstated immediately and if found guilty you'd be lucky to last the day before receiving your P45.

Again, Chelsea have failed to take the issue seriously and just one sentence from Andre Villas-Boas shows why: "We know exactly his human values and personality, so we will support him whatever happens."

Chelsea will support John Terry whatever happens. That means that if he is found guilty of this offence and is proved to be a horrible racist then his employers will support him. Is that taking a stance in kicking racism out of football? Of course it isn't. And this is why the FA and FIFA are wasting their time trying to kick racism out of football. If the clubs are prepared to support and defend racist behaviour, then it won't ever stop.

10 comments:

swisslet said...

Great post.

I was listening to this saga being discussed on 5Live last night, and my old friend Mark Pougatch said something like:

"Of course, we should make it absolutely clear that using racist language does not neccessarily make you a racist"

Um. What?

So what would you have to do to be a racist? Organise a lynching.

Liverpool should be ashamed of themselves - although does the absence of John Terry t-shirts at Chelsea indicate that the club aren't supporting him as fully as they might?

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Host PPH said...

I think that it is fair because there aren't space for behavior like that in Football.

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