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August 2021

England run by idiots, players arrested, racism untouched. Just another day in football.

By Tony Attwood

Sepp Blatter of Fick Fufa claims that English football is “run by idiots”, according to Sebastian Coe.  Commenting on the first England 2018 meeting he said, “I had been truly shocked by the vituperative nature of the meeting I had just witnessed. There was thinly disguised contempt around the table.”

This is quite a change in stance, because previously Coe has blamed the  British media for having the temerity to point out the wholesale corruption that dominates Fufa and running TV programmes and the like pointing out how disgraceful the organisation is.  Now he says, “I am less willing to lay the blame at the media’s door.  Ultimately the fault, I believe, lies with the awful dysfunctionality of the English game, its personalities and politics.

Certainly on this point I can agree with him.  Dysfunctionality reigns supreme from the FA, via the clubs who exploit the huge financial potential of their owners through the Premier League and onwards.   No one trusts anyone, and the latest Chelsea attack on a referee shows that the situation is getting worse.   This is not me trying to judge the issue – of course I don’t know what Clattenburg said, but the fact that the case is happening shows how utterly dysfunctional everything in football is.

Some of Coe’s rhetoric however is weird.   Try this one…

“As president of the international federation Blatter sees the unwillingness of English clubs to release players for international duty. He sees the purchasing power of the English game – big-name clubs buying up players from all over the world.”

Of course we don’t want to release our players, because the country managers will simply play them when injured and leave the clubs to patch them up just in time for the next round of internationals.   What the hell do you expect us to think?

And meanwhile the British government is in touch with the Serbian government which is trying to arrest some English under 21 players and a coach ( Steven Caulker, Tom Ince and Steve Wigley are the names being discussed)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said, “Serbian police have announced that they have submitted charges against two England players and an assistant coach to the public prosecutor following an incident at the Under-21 football match in Serbia. We are investigating the full details of these charges before considering our response.”

So what does England do now?  I have argued so many times that the outright corruption of Fifa and the failure of Fifa and Uefa to deal with racism at matches held under their authority, and the insistence of Fifa and Uefa at locking up people who try to advertise the wrong products, makes them utterly unsuitable organisations to deal with in every way at every level.
What does the FA think we should do?  Ignore the racism and the £20k fines and continue to play Serbia knowing that nothing is changing there?  Allow the whole team to be arrested on the pitch next time?
In 2007 Serbia were fined all of £16,000 by Uefa for racist chanting from fans.  That is less than John Terry earns every two hours (or less than he earns every hour he is awake, if you want to calculate it that way).  But maybe if the FA is so weak that it won’t dare to pull out, the clubs should.   I doubt they ever will, but I still think they ought to.

Yes, Michel Platini has said Serbia could face sanctions if found guilty of racism.   So what does that mean?  Next time they will be fined what John Terry earns in 3 hours?   The current position is so far away from anything sane that there isn’t even the start of a conversation.

Alex Horne, the FA general secretary said recently, “No football team should be asked to play in any environment where racial abuse, violence and threatening behaviour is prevalent.”   So Mr Horne, it is easy.  Very easy.  Just stop the games.  Stand up.  Take a moral position.   Say, “we are out, and any other nation that wants to play football in stadia where any racism is punished by exclusion of the country for 3 years, can join us.”

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Only then, at that moment, would we see if there is any morality anywhere at all in football.

And supposing the rest of the world says “no, we quite like racism – at least we prefer racism to pulling out of Fifa” what would we have lost?  Nothing.  We would have gained our dignity and our moral position.  Maybe for most people they don’t count for anything any more.  Maybe it is just me.

So is there nothing good to say about football and Arsenal?

The best that comes to mind was the performance of Walcott in the league cup game.  With Gervinho injured for the next few weeks, and with his recent form Walcott ought to be getting games, and ought to be able to play an alternating central and wide roll.  If so, maybe he will sign a new contract – and that would cheer me up a bit.

But overall, for football, I despair.


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You can support Arsenal or you can walk out.  One of these is better for your health.


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22 comments to England run by idiots, players arrested, racism untouched. Just another day in football.

  • marcus

    I think the crisis in English football will erupt soon, it’s got too out of hand. I wouldn’t be surprised to see black players boycott a weekend’s games.

    It’s a shame Mikel didn’t hear the insult personally, because he could have then walked from the pitch, and hopefully every other black player would have followed him.

    Ultimately someone somewhere will have to have a conscience that overrides his paycheck….

  • marcus

    and as you say Tony, we shouldn’t prejudge the issue…while it’s hard to imagine someone in Clattenburg’s position saying that, how can we be so sure?

  • nicky

    A cousin of mine who lives in Serbia ‘phoned me last night
    to say that the arrest of the players and coach by the authorities has been misunderstood. Due to a shortage of transport throughout the land it’s the COACH not the players that is badly needed, before the country’s next international game.
    Urgent talks are being held at articulated level.
    On the more serious matter of international racism I would much prefer that during a match, at the first sign of racial chanting, the England team should be ordered off the field by the manager. Forget the loss of points or the match. Imagine the outcome. The home crowd without a game to
    watch. The publicity. It would only take a few similar instances before FIFA, in all its contaminated glory, would HAVE to act with the utmost severity.
    The only question remaining is this: Have the FA the bottle to instruct the Manager?

  • Andrei

    @nicky What you are suggesting would be similar to what certain Sol Cambell did before Euro 2012. He advocated English fans against going to Poland and Ukraine because of the rampant racism there. Cambell even asserted that it would be outright dangerous for people of black descend to go there. Needless to say that English media had eagerly embraced this way of thinking and tried hard to populalrize it world wide.

    I wonder where Sol and his big mouth are now. I haven’t heard any apologies coming from his side. And is it suprising that the story is completely forgotten in the English media?

  • nicky

    The difference I am advocating is that our FA would at last take positive action against racism. All the legislative bodies in football seem to issue pious platitudes about racism but that alone is not enough.
    I thought the carnage of WW2 had taught the world all about the evil of racism……but we never learn.

  • Andrei

    @nicky It may be positive in your eyes but not others. You cannot force your way in such a singlehanded fashion after all takes two to tango. Besides I don’t think it is a good idea to make decisions like this during the game in the heat of the moment so to speek. You may see things quite differently after time passess and all sides have cooled down.

  • Matt Clarke

    Thanks for discussing these issues UA.
    I agree that the FA ought to act (knowing that FIFA will do nothing significant).
    Splendid isolation is preferable to participation in competitions that (through inaction) condone racism.

    (And England might get an invite to the Africa Cup of Nations, thereby removing the headache of that competition taking players away)

    @Nicky and Andrei:
    I found myself immediately agreeing with Nicky (as usual) and wondered how Andrei could possibly disagree. So I thought briefly about it and decided that if such an action were widely practised by national teams it (deliberate racist chants) could be used (by crooks of all sorts) to disrupt games.

    I do think, though that such a sanction should be used in extreme circumstances such as the Serbia game.

  • nicky

    I hope I am not misunderstanding you but to me the situation is crystal clear.
    If the England team playing away ANYWHERE and is subject to racial abuse by the home crowd because some of the England players are black, then I say that the FA should instruct the manager to withdraw the team from the game and return home.
    There is no question of “heat of the moment”or “singlehanded fashion”. It would be the clearly stated policy of our FA before any away game.
    Something must be done and it seems to me that drastic action is the only way.

  • nicky

    @Matt Clarke,
    You are of course quite right to point out that “abuse of the abuse” could be used in all sorts of criminality.
    In a perfect world, nations would club together on racism and say “enough is enough”. After all, when one thinks about, we are ALL coloured in one shade or another. If it wasn’t such a serious matter, peals of laughter should be the answer to colour being so important to so many.

  • Adam

    Tolerate racism so you can continue to play a game.
    Never heard anything so stupid.
    @Andrei. I don’t understand your use of “It takes two to tango” phrase, A player is on a pitch and the crowd is abusing him, what has he done to deserve that. How is standing up against racism “forcing your way” on to someone?
    Andrei where are you from?

  • Andrei

    @nicky and Adam What you are suggesting constitues unilateral action based on your understanding of the situation and your point of view. Essentially your are forcing your narrow definition of anti-racism campaign which is greatly influenced by painful past of colonialism and racial discrimination in Western countries and long history of efforts to cure these ailments. As I eluded in my other posts it is not to say that this view is wrong but it is not necessarily shared in other parts of the world. Neither it takes into consideration differences in language, culture, religion and overall level of acceptance in some borderline situations.

    E.g. in the friendly game between Brazil and Scotland last year Neymar complained about what he claimed as racial chants coming from the Scottish fans. His claims were casually dismissed with Scotland manager stating that fans were just calling Neyamar out for his percieved habit of going down rather easily and that kind of banter happens rootinely in many games. So was Neymar racially abused or it was a matter of game time banter and misunderstanding? Should Brazilian team have walked out in support of Neymar? In another example Luis Suarez after getting accused by Patric Evra asserted that language he used in Spanish was normal in his country therefore wasn’t racist. The counter argument was that the game was played on English soil and that Suarez should have complied to English norms. But what if the game was played in Uruguay? Or how should English players react during WC 2014 in Brazil if they hear chants that include some taboo words in English and references to racial origin which are perfectly normal in South America and are not considered racist?

  • Shard

    I am generally loathe to wade into a debate on racism because it is a tough cookie to crack. But on the whole, I have to agree with Andrei here. The Western notions of racism are quite narrow, and it does bring some pre-conceived notions along with it.

    For example, calling a black man, a monkey, is racist. However, in India (in my experience), calling someone a monkey indicates someone being cheeky, and jumping around, or just being annoying (depending on context) It is also a phrase to call someone imitating someone a monkey (something like copy-cat), which the English language also calls ‘aping’ someone.

    Now what happens when someone who is being cheeky is called a monkey, but that man also happens to be black? Western reports will automatically assume it was racist, regardless of context. This is just one example. There will be many more such issues throughout the world.

    How exactly do you curb discrimination, whether on the basis of race or otherwise? I don’t know, but I don’t think boycotts and walk offs are actually any sort of solution at all. If anything it is liable to punish the innocent more than the (perhaps) guilty minority, and might even end up creating more division rather than unity.

  • nicky

    I have no time for those who seek to excuse racism on the basis that on some occasions and in some places it can be acceptable.
    You folk know full well what is racial abuse and what is not and it is a great pity that you cannot condemn it out of hand.

  • Shard


    How exactly have I defended any racism, or any other discrimination for that matter? I never said it is acceptable in any context. I merely say that Western society is so focused on itself and its ways that they often do not understand the context, and misunderstand or misrepresent something as racist behaviour. An example of which I gave, and you by not understanding (or even wanting to) have only illustrated my point of your imposing your culture on others.

    Racism is unacceptable. What is racism is hard to define however. And I think the only way to fight it is with patience and through trying to build understanding across cultures and peoples. Simply handing out punishments, or boycotting events, implying everyone in the arena (or the country) is racist, won’t do that. (Though obviously penalising racist behaviour is also important)

  • Adam

    Shard & Andrei. The article is refering to the Serbian and England U21 game which saw some ugly scenes after which the Serbian FA have banned two of their players for a year each and banned some of their staff for two years. The serbian police are looking to charge or have charged 11 people 3 of which are English players and staff. The banned people have already been found guilty of violence or some other form of disturbance whether it is racist or discriminatory in nature I do not know, However the catylist was the abuse aimed at a black English player.
    We need to wait and see what UEFA decide on the 22 November when they releas their findings. Until then we can all only presume what happened.

  • Pat

    Shard and Andrei, I think you make valid points.
    And by the way, the expression ‘cheeky monkey’ with no racial overtones at all, used to be quite common in Britain as well.
    Of course, anyone inadvertently using the expression now would risk being accused of racism even if he or she were not racist at all.
    Anyway, the worst and most fundamental fact is that Britain is still a society where racism is very common, exactly as Shard says, because of British imperialism.
    Which means we really have no strong grounds to point at other nations and call them racist.

  • Adam

    Wow, so judging by some standards we English have lost any rights to defend ourselves or others against discrimination due to imperialism.
    Research a fellow called Cecil Rhodes the surname should give it away, He was a Hertfordshire lad hooked himself up with the Werner family and had dealings with the De Beers family (he optimises imperialism) look out for his breeding plan.

    I wonder how many more people would have died in Europe between 1939-1945 and especially as recently as 1991-1995 in the former Yugoslavian region had Nato and it’s allies not intervened. Between 100,000 – 110,000 people dead and 2.2Million people displaced between 1991-1992.
    45 Serbians convicted of crimes against humanity and genocide, Trials still ongoing at the Hague. But they have no problems with discrimination out there and some on this site start to compare “cheeky monkey” stories. I know of at least 100,000 people who would tell you to F*** OFF with your cheeky monkey stories but they no longer have a voice because they were massacred by Serbian forces who’s sons, brothers and themselves now attend football matches and abuse foreigners players with their right wing nonsense.

    I think some of you have commented on something whilst not being in possession of all the facts.

  • Matt Clarke

    An interesting development reported here…

    My own feeling is that Spuds ought to be last on the list – get the real racists sorted first and then address such peripheral issues, but we shall see…

  • Matt Clarke

    …reading back (last post) I realise that I did not add that the rest of their (SBL) proposal seem to be a move in the right direction – and it’s great that an influencial body is prepared to take some action (just in case I emphasised the negative too much).

  • Mike T

    I am not sure that members of the non footballing Jewish community will agree with you.
    The trouble with the 10 point plan it hasnt been fully thought out.Its a shopping list withouth any real thought about what and how it could be imposed or indeed how it will impact.
    For instance if you say 20% of canditate for jobs have to be black , what about 20% female, 20% based on disablity? It should be about who is right for the job not about qoutas. The number of times I have, at promotion boards given the job to the least favourite who had there been possitvive discrimination woudnt have even been shortlisted in the first place.
    The whole issue needs sorting out but just reflect how much of a mess the FA has got itself into over the diving issue

  • Matt Clarke

    Well, Mike T, my only experience of discussing the issue is with football fans (of the Jewish community) so I can accept that I am maybe out of touch with other views.

    If the chanting is of concern to them then I have no problem with it being stopped soone rather than later.

  • Mike T


    The trouble in all this is how one person says its ok but another will find it offensive