Where’s ‘Integrity Of The Game’ When Racism Happens? By Dan Smith
The saddest part of the Ian Wright story this week is that it’s not more of a story. Premiership clubs complaining about having to play in neutral venues seems more of a concern then racial abuse again transpiring in the sport.
The irony being that ‘integrity of the game’ has become the buzzword when deciding how/when/if we relaunch football, yet those in power lack the gumption to make a stance against racism. When do we have meetings about that issue?
When does it become unfair to play in those circumstances?
Where’s your zero tolerance on the subject?
I’m not talking about asking players to wear a few shirts or take photos in front of the latest slogan, I’m talking about an agreement on points deductions, empty stadiums, etc.
England missed a trick a year ago in Bulgaria where the chance was there to set an example to the world.
It was sad to see Ian Wright himself try to convince everyone it was a powerful moment in the fight against racism because by halting the game it caused awareness, it forced television companies world-wide to show that people with those views still existed in 2020.
Imagine though if Harry Kane had walked his players off?
Imagine the pressure UEFA would have been under if a major European qualifier couldn’t be completed?
Instead we ignored it. The monkey chants carried on, Nazi salutes were still made, yet the likes of Sterling had to deal with it. I said it at the time …. that’s not zero tolerance…
Bulgaria were fined just 65,000 for racial abuse, that’s 21,000 thousand less then what Nicolas Bendtner had to pay for having a sponsor on his underwear. So how can we be surprised that a generation are growing up not taking a criminal offence seriously?
A teenager has stepped forward to police admitting sending these vile messages to Ian Wright (so vile I choose not to repeat them here). The biggest concern being that this is an incident that Wright flagged up, meaning others have occurred where he didn’t. Other players also deal with this daily but don’t speak out.
What makes a young man feel the need to resort to those words based on not liking someone else’s opinion? Would he say that in school? In work? To someone’s face? In a sense society has let him down.
He would have grown up to things happening all the time around him.
We live in an era where everyone can share an opinion and say and do what they want, confusing freedom of speech to being nasty to another human being. What’s a Katy Hopkins become famous for?
Football has also become an environment where people believe they can say or do what they want. The most famous fans on AFTV are the ones who are most negative and swear the most.
This young male takes football so seriously he resorts to racial abuse. Yet I bet if the team he supports were deducted points next week for racial abuse he would care?
Yet this moron would have grown up seeing fan channels call Ozil the C word and get views for it. He would have watched Chelsea fans verbally abusing Sterling and getting zero punishment. Man City fans did the same to Fred, a banana was thrown at Aubameyang.
Time and again are clubs get reported in Europe for the sick chants that away fans sing. Over the last few years there has been a rise in arrests at games and complaints of racism, yet we still wait for the first ever Premiership punishment of a points deduction or a ban of fans.
What is worse is it’s becoming less and less newsworthy, like it’s becoming an accepted practice.
The biggest learning tool a child has is us as adults. If they see us swearing at Xhaka because he misplaced a pass, they will think it’s acceptable. For example, if you went to the theatre but you thought the acting was poor would that give you the right to stand up and verbally abuse the person on stage? No, you would sit and be quiet.
You only know to act like that because generations have role modelled to you that this is how you behave in a theatre, in a restaurant, etc.
Football has the power to set standards. If they really wanted to, they could make a huge example out of anyone who doesn’t follow those standards. 20 owners could simply sign a document that means that any racial abuse heard and proven will result in empty stadiums or points deductions. They won’t, for the same reason social media won’t make changes …. money.
The minute the Emirates had away fans banned, or a club is losing points based on racism, it affects their precious brand as the best League in the world. Better to ignore it and twice a year ask players to wear a shirt?
Just like Facebook and Twitter. It would be easy for those companies to set up accounts where you have to confirm your address (Like you would if you registered on a betting site, etc). Yet how they look at it is ‘why change a formula that makes millions’?
So next time I hear football claim they are caring about the ‘integrity of the game’, I want them to think of a key part of Ian Wright’s statement ……’NORMALLY I’m good at ignoring it but THIS TIME it bothered me’.
Think about that?
A man in 2020 is admitting he’s self-taught himself to accept racism in this country.
Integrity of The Game?