Black Lives Matter – Actions Speak Louder Then Words by Dan Smith
Last weekend, after scoring, Jadon Sancho chose to remove his shirt to unveil a message ‘Justice For George Floyd’.
Sancho knew he would get a yellow card, not for the message but simply because it’s long been in the rules that removing of the Jersey will result in a booking. Clearly to the winger it was worth it to do his bit in spreading a message.
Other parts of the world held protests (some more productive than others). Clubs have released images with their squads taking a knee, while Tuesday saw several huge institutions online (including Arsenal’s Twitter) black out in solidarity.
I feel sorry for the officials in the Bundesliga who have been thrown under the bus by the authorities. The FIFA president had the nerve to suggest ‘In a FIFA competition the recent demonstrations would deserve an applause not punishment’
“We all must say no to racism and any form of discrimination. We all must say no to violence. Any form of violence.”
Sorry? Referees were not showing cards last weekend because they don’t agree with the sentiment, they are acting because you told them to. It was a rule those in charge of the game inserted nearly two decades ago to avoid any sponsors being offended.
I remember Thierry Henry twice scoring against Man United in 2001 and twice showing writing on his long sleeve thermal – ‘I did it for the West Indies’ (The French media didn’t like this).
You see it’s easy for Gianna Infantino to give a PR friendly answer but why doesn’t he simply implement the change, just order from now on removing of the shirt to be not worthy of any sanction?
The thing is that it is easy to do for an injustice with the majority agreeing with each other, but how exactly can you – in the FA’s own words. ‘Any breach of the laws will be judged by a case by case basis‘? How do you do that?
How do you decide what is a topic you want to challenge, and what issues are not allowed to be discussed? Who are you to play god with your players’ values and beliefs by telling them which subjects are allowed/not allowed to be written on your shirt?
That’s why your FIFA, FA and UEFA (in a bid to boost their image) contradict their words with their actions. Don’t get me wrong, of course they are appalled by the events in America, but what do they do to spread awareness?
They will pay this lip service but remember these are the same governing bodies who fined Bendtner more money for having advertisers on his boxers then Bulgarian fans for racial abuse. They clearly saw having a betting company on your underwear worse than national TV showing young men doing the Nazi salute.
In the UK football is watched by so many kids, what a chance for the sport to educate but we miss that opportunity. So, for the next few weeks players have the green light to say how they feel about police treatment of different races?
Yet if Ozil wants to spread awareness of how many Muslims he believes are being mistreated in China that’s not okay?
You have to check with your TV networks and brands?
What about The Prince of Saudi Arabia wanting to buy Newcastle?
Are players allowed to start a discussion on that country’s human rights record? I guess we can’t have youngsters reading shirts having ago at a family who shook hands with our Queen. What about the homeless?
The Poor? Can we have those messages on shirts or will Adidas, the Emirates, etc, not approve?
So, if a player wants to take a knee, that’s their choice, but don’t use a real-life tragedy to make out you encourage free speech. If you were serious you never would have censored the likes of Henry, all those years ago.
Forget about how players celebrate, what are those in charge of the game doing to show they do not tolerate racial prejudice? What are they doing to show to society that if you walk into one of their stadiums, this is a sport that has a zero-tolerance policy?
You see, lots of people are marching, when in reality the police officer has been charged. Some are not being the solution, but furthering the problem by using this as an opportunity to break the law, an insult to the Floyd family. This won’t be changed by shouting loud and stamping your feet.
In the short term, the world will move on until the next victim. We know that by history, how many cases like George Floyd have we seen for decades? There is no quick fix. It’s about educating, changing the mindset and teaching that next generation that you simply will not accept that type of evilness. But you really need to want to make that change.
That’s where Football has such a responsibility based on their young following.
Take the Bendtner example I gave earlier, that teaches them that what Bulgaria subjected our players to was wrong – but only to a point? That Chelsea fans were wrong to abuse Sterling – but not enough for a stadium ban or points deduction. I could mention examples at the Etihad, Emirates, Old Trafford, etc.
So, the hashtag is Black lives matter. Footballers are being encouraged to acknowledge that by taking a knee, and the FA, FIFA and UEFA might even let you take your shirt off, but what are they doing to show us Black lives really matter?
Be kind in the comments…