Every now and again, this issue is visited. Racism and race discrimination happens in all levels of our beautiful game. Many times, it gets swept under the carpet, when it is not high enough in profile.
When it happens in a youth game on a Sunday morning in the back streets of south-east London, no one pays much attention. That is sweeping it well under the carpet.
But this is the accusation – they say the authorities sweep racism under the carpet when it’s not a high profile event.
But the reality is this: the authorities sweep ALL matters of racism under the carpet. The only difference is the size of the broom they use to sweep one over the other.
What happened in Bulgaria on 14 October was an absolute disgrace. But mostly, it was a slap – a defiant slap on the faces of the suit-wearing, dapper-looking executives of world football; a daring affront that says “there, we’ve done it. What can you do?”
England players reacted defiantly, playing the game out and winning handsomely. But the result was insignificant, and questions abound as to whether they needed to continue that match in the face of the premeditated, unguarded and disgraceful torrent they faced.
But they soldiered on…thinking ‘let’s do the business on the pitch and let us trust the authorities to do the needful and do the right thing’.
But that was where they went wrong! Because the authorities they trusted so much were not going to serve a meaningful deterrent against such despicable act!
Can anyone in this world explain to me how a €75,000 fine serves as a “lesson” to others that racist chants and racist behaviour is not good and must stop? How can anyone explain the rationale behind the punishment by UEFA for something that touched and affected millions of people across the world?
Are we actually being serious here? What is this world turning into?
All these high-profile names of anti-racism campaign bodies (Kick-It-Out, FARE and any others)….are they oblivious, blind or sucked in by the meaningless and patronising rhetoric coming from the authorities on this matter? Do they not all see that UEFA and perhaps FIFA could not care less about this bad cancer in our society?
How does a spectator ban for two matches, and…..still cant believe it….a €75,000 fine be enough to show the world that football will not take too kindly anymore to racist and abusive chants in our stadiums?
My heart bleeds. Football is not ready to fight racism. In fact, football is racist, and I am sorry, but all black and ethnic players are seen by the so-called authorities as pawns that just fit the bill when it comes to entertainment and using them to generate big millions of television rights revenue!
But in protecting the dignity of human beings, which this is all about, the authorities have failed. We should all be ashamed of what we have become.
The President of Bulgaria’s football federation saw it as so bad that he gave up his job for it. The coach of the Bulgarian team followed suit. These people, among many others saw the gravity of what happened and sacrificed their livelihood for it. Yet, UEFA saw it as worth a paltry €75,000. What a shame!
Kick-It-Out, FARE and other organizations have to speak out and reject this inhuman ruling of UEFA’s. We have to throw this out in its entirety and say ‘NO MORE’ to injustice. Because this is an injustice. It is like slamming a 4-week jail term on someone who killed 10 people in cold blood! How will the world react to that?
We are getting closer and closer to an era where we will encourage players to actually walk off the pitch when faced by this action by animals in the crowd. I personally regret the fact that England players did not walk off. I know many share my views.
We are failing our youths. UEFA has the stick but refuse to wield it. Nothing short of a total expulsion of Bulgaria from the tournament and a massive stadium ban – a ban from hosting international football in the country for a period – is good enough for what happened on the dark day that 14 October 2019 was!