Two Old Codgers

How the World strikes us

RACISM IN FOOTBALL
Another rambling blog. The headlines caught my eye and I have started writing before what I am hoping to say is clear in my head.

Intellectually, I know there is no place for racism. Skin colour, religious belief, language,
Scout Badge
country of origin really don’t matter, we are all Homo Sapiens and according to the saying, we are all born equal. The snag is we are tribal animals, we need to belong to a ‘Club’. This can be family, tribe, country, religion or even football club. Each ‘Club’ has its badge(s) of membership and again you end up with a list - language, skin colour, the badge on your blazer, the tie around your neck, National Anthem and so on ad infinitum. For some deep, basic instinct we protect our membership by rejecting anyone from outside. We are the best and all others are lesser beings.

Back to football. Just what is the supporter supporting? In the beginning he would support lads from his home town who made up the team. They were all members of the Wilmington
Wilmington FC
Football Club, identified by where they were born and probably by accent. That was then - now If Wilmington is in the English Premier League it is probable that over half the team will be foreigners and there may be an odd one who was born within a hundred miles.

Another digression, Just what is "Manchester United" or "Sheffield Wednesday"? Is it a place or just a name? The owner is probably a multi millionaire from the Middle East, the players have no geographical loyalty in fact the only long standing loyalty is from the fans.

Respect

So how common is football racism? In 2018/19 Manchester United had an average at home matches of nearly 75,000. Data released under a Freedom of Information request shows that 27 individuals recorded as United fans by police were arrested during the season. Manchester United pointed to the fact their large attendances meant the percentage of their supporters involved was miniscule. A club spokesperson said "This statistic applies to 0.0004 per cent of our match going fanbase. I does not reflect the views or behaviour of our fans as a whole in any way". Obviously there are many racists who don’t get arrested but the vast majority of fans would never dream of verbally attacking a player because of the colour of his skin.

It is unlikely that racism can be eradicated by legislation or another set of rules. It probably goes back to the tribal defence of our ‘Club’. The boos and whistles when the other team has the ball or commits a foul are accepted. It just so happens that the centre forward from the opposing team is black and is an easily identifiable target. The racial insults from the few aren’t really directed at an individual but at the opposing team. Is the mindless chanting of a few yobbos really racism? In most cases I doubt it, I suspect the perpetrators would glow with pride if they were able to grab a ‘Selfie’ with the centre forward from their own team who, incidentally, was born and brought up in Nigeria. The snag is, black skin is the clearest possible indicator that they are outsiders. We may be prejudiced against Eastern Europeans but unless they speak there are no clear signals that they don’t belong.

Jew
The heavy hand (or foot) may work in the short term but it needs something much more subtle to wipe it out. We need to get back to basics and see where these attitudes come from, Look at your own attitudes to Blacks, Jews, Frenchmen, Germans - there may be some grubby bits of racism lurking in murky corners of your mind, planted by many years of propaganda from parents, governments, folk tales, fiction and, of course, from our tribe. Take anti Semitism, I reckon we all know Jews either as colleagues or neighbours and racism doesn’t rear it’s ugly head but if they wear their badge, it may be a different matter.

It must be very uncomfortable being the target for racist chants and comments but I wonder if it is possible to take some of the steam out of it by the way player, back and white, react to it.
Footballers laughing2
If the black footballers could get together and choose to disregard them and if black and white
B & W Footballer
team mates laughed together in the direction of the mindless bigots, it might just begin to defuse the situation. Clubs could help by taking the problem away from the individual black player, by increasing CCTV and using the captured images to ban the guilty parties from all football grounds.

Finally, the crowd would soon do away with the racist chants if the players walked off the field and the game was abandoned. Tickets can cost as much as several hundred pounds and I am only guessing but on the basis that the game has kicked off I suspect there would be no refund due and those alongside the abuser might make their feelings felt.

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