The issue of zero tolerance raises it’s head yet again

Premiership pre-match press conferences this week have been dominated by talk of the English players being racially abused in Montenegro. Some of the top bosses have given ideas about possible sanctions, ranging from teams walking off the pitch, 10-minute breaks, etc.

Pep Guardiola passionately spoke about how football can help educate people. The irony being that no man has been more outspoken about racism in the UK, more than his midfielder Sterling. Yet when the winger was clearly being verbally attacked at Stamford Bridge, the ref, his captain, his coach, no one ……. asked if he wanted to walk off the field.

That’s okay though, because every summer clubs get together to agree rules/regulations in his to make the game better. Surely then, first on the agenda will not be clarification on offside or consistency on VAR but a signed document on agreed punishments for when supporters break the law. The reality of course is in a week’s time we will be debating something else, with nothing done to clean up the sport.

While the likes of Klopp or Sarri might mean what they say, they could also be reeling off bullet points from a statement prepared by their PR team. There have been so many incidents that in 2019, talk is cheap. There is so much money in the industry that if owners/chairmen really were disgusted by racial discrimination, they could put their money where they mouth is. The fact they won’t agree to any legislation that could directly hurt them tells you where their priorities are. You mention empty stadiums or points deductions as a deterrent, they’re thinking about finances not the welfare of people.

It’s not just the millionaires. When Jack Grealish was hit by a fan a month ago, I suggested what the consequences could be. Certain readers didn’t feel the majority should be hurt by the minority. The FA don’t seem to be doing anymore to the Blues than a fine. Just like they didn’t do anything brave to make an example out of the idiot who threw a banana at Auba. Having promised action, what action plan was put in place after the Sterling/Chelsea incident?

Because of course the moment matches played behind closed doors, or away fans are banned, that’s England admitting we have a problem in our league. That in turns affects the image of us being ‘the best in the world’. From there you have a domino effect. Less companies want to sponsor a product with empty seats. Businesses wouldn’t appreciate missing out on traveling fans spending money in their cities for a whole weekend.

So, think about that and ask yourself, is a Stan Kroenke really going to encourage players walking off a pitch? So many look down on Italy and Croatia for crowd trouble, like we are above that in Britain. Yet our version of Zero tolerance is it exists as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone in the pocket.

Dan Smith


  1. This article raises the far more important question – FAR more impoortant than football that is – of whether or not we wish to take part in a society where all are for themselves OR whether we are all “our brothers keepers” so to speak. I am firmly in the latter camp. This means that we must ALL take part in combating disgusting and unacceptable behaviour and if this “inconveniences ” us through having grounds closed or teams, correctly, walking off when racist behaviour is present, then that is what MUST be accepted , indeed encouraged and embraced by us all. Otherwise you risk accepting the law of the jungle where all are merely for themselves and we would have no empathy and instinct to support and protect those outrageously hated for the totally irrelevant “accident” of their skin shade. Those who do not think like this are NOT evolved humans in my firm view and should be forced by society to live in the same world as proper humans do. That this question should even be discussed , as if there can be any other view than this, in the 21st century, is deeply shameful. That some “semi human dinosaurs” STILL inhabit our planet is despicable.

    1. Jon, I must say there is no way I would disagree with your article or your sentiments regarding this matter but I can honestly say with my hand on my heart that I have never witnessed racism personally as in the guy next to me or in the row in front, in all the sixty years I’ve been watching football (99% of it at Highbury / Emirates). I’m not saying it doesn’t exist as in the case of the morons of Montenegro, the stupid Chelsea fans in Paris and the idiot Spurs fan who threw a banana at Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang however I do think it’s blown out of proportion. I know black friends who feel the same. I also think that some people play the race card for their own advantage. Most of this is being fuelled by the political correct brigade, the people who say abbreviating Pakistani to Paki and Australian to Aussie is racist but British to Brit is ok. Can’t have both ways.

      1. KENNY, SO HAVE YOU SAT IN THE SAME SEAT AT HIGHBURY ALL THAT TIME THEN? IF SO YOU CAN ONLY HAVE HEARD A FEW PEOPLE IN YOUR VICINITY. I stood on the old North Bank for my first 30 years, among thousands of different fans and away fans nearby too and saw and heard many racist and vile chants, in the 70’s esp. The Y word is also racist and still used by Spuds and some rival fans, despite regular pleas from the Jewish community to cease. I have never come across anyone of any nationality who thinks using Aussie is racist. Aussies themselves self describe, constantly. The P word is entirely different since it came from a derogative vocal tone and manner when used by some Brits. Context is ALL IMPORTANT, WHICH SENSIBLE AND INTELLIGENT FOLK UNDERSTAND VERY WELL.

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