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Wednesday, October 26, 2011 

Footballers! Put up with racism!

(h/t to both Tabloid Watch and Angry Mob.)

If nothing else, Steve Doughty displays an interesting thought process in his quite remarkable article for the Daily Mail's RightMinds blog (edited by Simon Heffer, who just so happens to be Enoch Powell's biographer). After a couple of weeks in which it's been claimed that Premier League footballers have racially abused each other, Doughty does the sensible thing and relates how massively things have improved even since the 70s and 80s. He writes about how "it has been a long hard road" for black footballers, as indeed it has. He even relates an anecdote about how a man in front of him and his elderly mother at Highbury (before Arsenal moved to the Grove) racially abused Kanu, afterwards turning round and apologising for letting such an unacceptable sentiment just "slip" out.

An indication to how after all this there's a bizarre conclusion is in the aside about John Terry, accused of calling Anton Ferdinand a "fucking black cunt". Terry's explanation is that he was in fact saying to Ferdinand, after a confused encounter, that he didn't say he was a "fucking black cunt", although it seems Ferdinand hadn't realised in the first place Terry had said anything of the sort. According to Doughty, that Terry might have said such things is not that surprising "given Terry's general level of conduct". I'm not a Chelsea fan, but the newspapers have for a while now seemed to have it in for Terry: tales of him urinating at the bar in a club, showing businessmen round Stamford Bridge for a fee, the outrageous entrapment of his father and finally the more than possibly untrue story of his affair with Vanessa Perroncel would rile anyone. Even if all of these accusations were true, it's fatuous to claim that they make the allegations of racism more likely.

Having then set out how much worse things used to be, and how there are also "worse things to complain about", Doughty's advice to any players racially abused is to "put up with it and get on with the game". Yes, Patrice Evra, you should put up with opposing players repeatedly calling you a "nigger"; after all, those who blazed a trail before you had to. As for you Anton, well, you didn't even know about Terry's comments before you heard about it later, so what's the problem? Of all the absurd arguments to make, this has to be one of the most ridiculous. The sheer fact that it was fans who were so vociferous about Terry's alleged comments gives the lie to the idea that players, knowing the progress that has been achieved, should now keep quiet. The obvious truism is that if the players themselves are treating each other in such a way, then it hardly sets an example to the fans. All the more reason for players not to tolerate it.

Understandably, the Show Racism the Red Card campaign is "appalled". Leroy Resenior, who works for the campaign, put it far more brutally when asked about the situation in general:

My son is a footballer and he has not experienced racism on the pitch, but he is of mixed heritage. Those who say that black players have to toughen up haven't got a clue and shouldn't be the ones our kids listen to.

Quite.

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