This weekend has provided, yet again, excellent and thrilling entertainment for the many millions of viewers, of the Barclays Premier League. From the exhilarating last minute winner from Robin Van Persie in the Manchester derby, to two late Nikita Jelavic goals, to send Tottenham from jubilant to despair; just your typical match day weekend in the life of the Premier League. However, it’s dogged of all dogfights; racism has kicked its way back into our beautifully cherished game.
Yesterday’s game at the Liberty Stadium, which featured an exciting exhibition of football with a 4-3 win for Norwich City, wasn’t the main talking point. A Swansea City fan, alleged to have made a racist monkey gesture to Norwich City’s Sébastien Bassong, has dragged the game back into the mud. This is the same Sébastien Bassong that suffered racist Tweets two weeks ago. The fan was subsequently arrested and Swansea City has said it is a “police matter” and that they “abhor racism”.
Racism in English football has slowly but surely deteriorated since the 70s and 80s, with Margaret Thatcher’s crackdown on hooliganism and the abolishment of the terraces. In the 70s and 80s English football wasn’t known around the world for its iconic derbies and excellent talents covering the field but with hooliganism and racism. Since then the FA have done everything in their power to try to abolish all kinds of racism in England. The key word in the last sentence is ‘try’. The recent sagas involving Luis Suarez, John Terry, Chelsea, West Ham and Tottenham have not been met firmly with harsher fines or bans. It seems as if the FA are putting racism aside for a couple months then only to come back to it with more scepticism and uncertainty. The ‘Kick It Out Campaign’ has met strong opposition amongst black players in recent weeks, with many arguing the same as me that nothing is being done by the FA. That campaign is the only real contribution the FA has made concerning racism in England in recent years.
On the other hand, I do not blame the FA solely for racism in football but UEFA and FIFA. Europe’s governing body have still yet to punish Serbia for their actions following the U21 game with England, in which Danny Rose was racially abused, nearly two months ago. The FA have complied evidence, including video evidence, to UEFA but they are still YET to take action. It may be easy for me to criticise Platini and his men but it’s very hard not to. Countries like Serbia and Russia were ruled for many years under communist regimes and this has moulded them into believing racist ideologies. Year after year the footballing community see that Serbia does not deserve the privilege of hosting any multi-cultural nations, with hooliganism still a major problem in Serbia. In 2007 at the U21 European Championship in Holland, saw Nedum Onuoha racially abused by Serbian fans, to which the ever gentle UEFA fined them £16,000. Compare that with UEFA’s €100,000 fine to Nicklas Bendtner for wearing Paddy Power boxers; unconceivable to say the least. UEFA and FIFA’s fines to countries clearly showing racist abuse to players has significantly decreased over time:
· Spain fined £40,000 in 2004
· Serbia fined £16,500 in 2007
· Croatia fined £10,000 in 2008
· Serbia 2012? Probably about £1.
Leniency is becoming a habit for our ‘governing bodies’. We ask ourselves what should be done about racism but there are too many answers to consider. What we need to consider is that racism is becoming an issue once again. FIFA need to make drastic changes in their policies and their ‘RESPECT’ campaign.This will feed down to UEFA and to respective FA’s around the world. It’s not just an English problem but a worldwide problem. The FA will need to start handing out harsher punishments to clubs, players and fans in England or else our beautiful game will be forever tarnished.
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