By Tony Attwood
“FA anti-racist action plan is just an insult” roars the Independent. “Uefa’s cowardly reaction against Serbian racists takes European game several steps backwards,” screams the Sunday Telegraph. “Blatter to discuss Serbia’s racism fine with Michel Platini” says the Guardian.
Everyone is getting exercised about racial abuse – each in their own way – with the latest man in the hot seat being Manchester City’s Kolarov, who apparently had a row with a man waving an Albanian flag.
A few years back I went to Serbia, and one thing that struck me was that a lot of the celebratory dates in their calendar were dates of defeats as they tried and tried again to create greater Serbia. But, I have to say, Britain does that too (celebrate defeats, not create a greater Serbia I mean). Our most famous date – the one every child in Britain knows – is the date when the Normans moved in to wipe out the Anglo Saxons, and took over the country (the Anglo Saxons having previously almost wiped out the native Britons – those were the guys with the druids etc etc). Many (according to a recent survey) are a little unsure of the year in which the second world war ended, or the meaning of VE Day and VJ Day, but ask about the Battle of Hastings (which the local king lost, having been busy just before, fighting a different load of invaders) and everyone knows.
Which shows how mixed up and strange history can be.
Racism however is now utterly tied in with the issue of law order and control in football. The Independent points out that John Obi Mikel “has graciously consented to being refereed by Mark Clattenburg, should the need for such a portentous ritual arise…”
The paper speaks of Mikel’s “woefully inadequate domestic suspension for threatening Clattenburg… Like Chelsea, Uefa are in a perpetual state of crisis management designed to convince us they are good corporate citizens. They must know the world sees through the Orwellian double-speak of such slogans as “We Care About Football”, yet they produce reams of self-congratulatory tosh hailing their work addressing “racism, reconciliation and peace, football for all abilities, violence, health, humanitarian aid, fan work and the environment”.
Absolutely, I agree entirely, and on reading this I began to wonder if I hadn’t after all made my first convert to the notion of the FA for the first time ever taking a stand and pulling out of UEFA until it stops supporting racism through its insane fines system. Through this system Uefa shows itself to be institutionally racist. By being integrated into Uefa the FA shares the same mantel.
The paper also points to the “the inconvenient truth that English football is indeed in “a moral vacuum”.
“The FA’s lamentable Football Inclusion and Anti-Discrimination Action Plan promises to “promote inclusion and eliminate discrimination whether by reason of race, nationality, ethnic origin, colour, age, gender, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, marital status, religion or belief, ability or disability”.
The Independent doesn’t go all the way, but it does note that the FA has but one objective, to get the politicians off its back, and stop anyone expecting action by saying constantly that “Something Has Been Done.” At last, a newspaper I can agree with – as far as it goes.
The Telegraph however focuses on the notion that the people running Serbian football have been caught being racists before and magnanimously suggests that “England need to work with Serbia, drawing on sporting principles to enlighten them…
This looked interesting until they reached their conclusion: “The FA is right to challenge Uefa, right to bolster its own tariff against racist acts or words. Influential English players like Rio Ferdinand must also lead the fight to Uefa’s door. Given Uefa’s shallow response on Thursday, Platini needs educating himself.”
And that’s it. No real call to action.
As for the Guardian, they seem to have given up, pointing out instead today that “Manchester City’s accumulated tax loss, now £461m, can be set off against any future profit – meaning ‘the company expects its effective tax rate in future years to be less than the UK standard’.” Well yes, that’s how taxation works in the UK. It might be right or wrong, but it affects all companies the same.
Meanwhile back at ground level we now find that Manchester City player Aleksandar Kolarov (who is Serbian) has been reported to the police for alleged racist remarks made to a fan waving an Albanian flag at the match against Newcastle yesterday.
Northumbria Police have received a complaint from a supporter alleging that racist language was used. And maybe there was, but we do have to remember that abusing Albania and Albanians is not racist, because no one has ever shown that Albanians are a distinct race.
It is a confusion that surfaces regularly. Abusing a citizen of the USA for being an American is not a racist comment, any more than the commentator on BBC Radio 5 was being racist when he said, “Like all Portuguese player’s he’s lazy”. Stupid yes, but not racist.
So it goes on, and we can expect the level of complaints to rise. But in terms of someone actually saying, let us act now and do something so major that everyone would take notice, and we start sorting things out, no one wants to make a move.
It was ever thus.
Recent posts –
- Wanted: Man U, Man C, Chelsea, Liverpool fans (and fans of other clubs) who are qualified refs
- There is only one way to sort out racist Uefa
- Arsenal fans demand changes to create better matchday atmosphere
- December 14: Ted Drake Day
- December 13: when Arsenal fans turned against Arsenal – the start of the modern era
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years
- Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal FC: crowd behaviour at the early matches
- Arsenal v Leicester: comparing the form, and the goalscorers
- Arsenal v Leicester: how will the ref handle Leicester’s mulitple tackling?
- What sort of referee is Darren England? The statistics reveal some odd facts.
- Premier League 2022/23 – Matchweek 2 Refereeing matters
- Are we all really sure that no other club behaves like Barcelona?