Over the past several months racism has reared its ugly head once again in English football. Liverpool’s Luis Suarez was charged with making repeated racial comments to Manchester United’s Patrice Evra during the October matchup between the two sides. The abuse resulted in a subsequent investigation by the FA and their findings were detailed in a 115 page investigation report, which found that Suarez used the term “negro” seven times towards Evra. The FA has suspended Suarez for eight matches and fined him £40,000 as a result of this incident.
Another October incident has centered on the always controversial John Terry. The incident took place during the Chelsea vs. Queens Park Rangers match on October 23. Terry is alleged to have racially abused QPR’s Anton Ferdinand during an argument that took place in the later moments of the match. Anton Ferdinand was reportedly unaware of what was said by Terry, but took offense when the incident was discussed on radio call in shows and social networking sites. On November 2, Terry was placed under police investigation for alleged racist abuse. He was interviewed on November 25 and on December 21 he was charged with using racist language by the Crown Prosecuting Service. A hearing is currently scheduled for February 1.
The third notable racism incident took place just this past weekend. Fresh off former Liverpool great Robbie Fowler appearing in black face as Lionel Ritchie, Liverpool fans at Saturday’s FA Cup matchup against Oldham are accused with racially abusing 20 year old midfielder Tom Adeyemi. Adeyemi left the field in tears after Liverpool fans repeatedly taunted the young player when he touched the ball and a Luis Suarez chant went up immediately after the incident occurred. For this to happen during one of the most important nights of the young player's career is especially terrible. Oldham captain Dean Furman summed it up by saying “What happened should not happen in the game. It (racism) has been highlighted over the last few months and it is an absolute disgrace.” A 20 year old Liverpool fan has since been arrested, but it is hard to believe that all the abuse stemmed from one individual.
Despite the work of the FA and the Kick it Out Campaign, racism is still finding its way from the fringes, into the mainstream of English soccer, going as high as Fabio Capello’s selection for England captain. These accused incidents are categorized as isolated, yet players and fans alike have quickly rushed to defend the likes of Suarez and Terry, despite the evidence pointing against them.
Liverpool is a club that can be found at the center of these two incidents and has a checkered history of racial abuse towards opposition players from their fans. Former Liverpool player and current Pool manager Kenny Daglish had his players train in t-shirts with the Uruguayan’s visage shortly after the incident, which should have been found to be in poor taste by any player with a modicum of self-awareness. Daglish also promoted the theory that this was another example of the FA, media, and Manchester United teaming up to tear down the storied club.
If the hearing on February 1 confirms that John Terry used racist language towards Anton Ferdinand he should be stripped of the England captaincy immediately. As a Chelsea supporter, I found his behavior to be disgraceful to the club and would accept any punishment that the FA then deems necessary. I am very thankful that Chelsea has chosen to handle the situation much better than Liverpool.
Racism is something that has no place in a game that brings so many people together. As I’ve said before, football is culturally universal, played in every country around the world. Bringing the divisive elements of racism into football is counter intuitive to all parties involved. It turns players and clubs into villains, it makes sponsors less likely to approach athletes and clubs for endorsement, and worst of all it brings attention to the beautiful game for the wrong reasons. The English Premier League and FA Cup are two of the most exciting competitions in modern football and to have international attention given to football for this nonsense is unacceptable. Every effort should be taken to ensure that these incidents do not occur again.
If you want to learn more about what you can do to keep racism out of football, visit www.kickitout.org