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‘Kick It Out’ and ‘Show Racism the Red Card’ have failed us – Racism in British football

‘Kick It Out’ and ‘Show Racism the Red Card’ have failed us – Racism in British football

The two so-called anti-racism organisations ‘Kick It Out‘ and ‘Show Racism the Red Card‘ have failed us in challenging racism in football. As a football fan and a citizen of the UK, I have been sickened by the re-surfacing of vile racism and discrimination on football stands. I would like to know what the Players Football Association are doing to counteract these issues. 

I want to take my kids to games but as a father I’m having to debate with myself about whether I want to expose my children to this harsh reality. Being of African Caribbean heritage, it’s imperative to have conversations with our children about the realness of racism in society. I know about the horrific abuse black footballers received in the 70s and 80s.

Footballers are not only on the receiving end of racism on the football stands from their senior management, (institutional) as well as team mates, but they also receive constant abuse online on social media. If we as a society see racism in football as a serious concern then we need to find ways to work together to combat this issue.

 As a youth and community consultant, I have had the honour of hosting football clinics with ex-professional footballers. They inform young people about the necessary life skills they must develop in order to work in the sporting industry. Through my interactions with these ex-professionals, I get the impression that the senior management of the sporting industry lacks a thorough understanding about cultural diversity. 

An example of this is the recent 3 monkey’s anti-racism campaign in Italy. How did Serie A get their anti-racism message so horribly wrong? They recruited culturally ignorant and oblivious people to co-sign this nonsense before it’s launch. 

One of the main reasons why these anti-racism football campaigns have been useless is because they have been ill-advised by individuals that are culturally unaware and many of these campaigns are insincere. I would go as far as to say they are just tick-box exercises. 

I strongly believe getting the right people advising these organisations is the only way to bring real change. From having witnessed their commentary, experience and punditry, I would strongly recommend that Ian Wright, Rio Ferdinand, John Barnes, Zesh Rehman, Eni Aluko and Jason Roberts become senior panellists to advise these organisations. Not only are they great speakers, I know that they have all been actively involved in communities with regards to cultural diversity, inclusion and empowerment too. They have all articulated racism in football from a culturally-appropriate and intelligent angle. 

It was refreshing to hear the England manager, Gareth Southgate, speaking about racism in British football in recent years. He stated: “young England stars are getting ‘disgusting’ racial abuse from their own fans.”

On 22nd March 2018 Southgate also said: “We should not talk about racism in other countries. We have to get our own house in order.”
As a black football fan myself, I salute footballers who have got their team mates to walk off the pitch with them in protest. This demonstrates true brotherhood/sisterhood, solidarity and teamwork. Could football ground security extracting racist supporters and lifetime bans from football grounds be the best deterrents? 

When female footballer, Eni Aluko, accused England manager Mark Sampson of racism with his Ebola remarks and asking a black team mate if they have been in prison on numerous occasions, many of us were in shock that a person in English football senior management could make such ignorant comments. 

Aluko said Sampson, the former England manager, told her to ensure relatives did not bring Ebola to a football match. When the striker called out racism in football, it ended her international career. As someone who played for Chelsea and now plays for Juventus in the Italian Women’s League. Why wasn’t she in the 2019 World Cup squad? Is this telling our youngsters, if you make a complaint about senior management’s racism you can lose your place in the squad? Her ordeal took over 3 and a half years of turmoil, trials, tribulations, smear campaigns and severe hardship where her integrity was attacked. 

Just before the World Cup, she won the league and cup double for Juventus, finishing the season as the club’s top scorer. Despite her impressive form, Aluko did not make England’s World Cup 2019 squad.

Now I’d like to pose the question: where were Kick It Out and Show Racism the Red Card? Eniola Aluko is one of only 11 female footballers to have played more than 100 times for England. A pioneer who was the first female pundit on the BBC’s Match Of The Day.

Racism in football is an on-going issue that needs to be combated within the football infrastructure and in communities simultaneously. It was inspiring listening to Gary Neville speaking on Sky Sports about keeping silent on seeing John Barnes when playing for England and his fellow team mates over the past 3 decades. He admits that he was silent as his main concern was doing his job. Then he shared with the panel that through maturity and personal development he gained the confidence in speaking out.  Gary Neville speaking out against racism in football has caused a paradigm shift and that’s why I would like to say thank you Gary Neville.  

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