The media have been patting England’s player on the back’s this morning for agreeing to walk off the pitch if they are subjected to any racist behaviour this week, like they have in prior away games.
“If it happens to one of us, it happens to all of us,” Tammy Abraham said.
“Harry Kane even said that if we’re not happy, if a player is not happy, we all come off the pitch together.”
Many believe it will send out a strong message and get the world’s attention. If FIFA got angry, while in the short term we could be fined or even have points deducted, long term that makes the fight against racial abuse even better. Imagine the pressure the World’s Governing Body would be under if they were seen to be handing out harsher sanctions for those being abused rather than the guilty individuals. Sponsors would find it a PR disaster to be in business with an institution who punish someone for having zero tolerance to discrimination, something you don’t have to tolerate in any other workplace. It might take those in charge of the game to lose some money to do what’s right to save their own image. Yet I’ll it believe when I see it.
What the English squad actually said is, if they heard anything unwanted from the crowd, they would ask the person being targeted if he feels comfortable to carry on in such an environment.
The sad reality is we have got to the point where I would not be shocked if there is some kind of incident on Friday or next Monday. My surprise would be if the Three Lions went as far as to walk off the pitch.
If anything, the likes of Sterling and Abraham would be under unfair pressure. Bad enough to be subjected to insults because of the colour of their skin, they then have to make a decision that will be scrutinised by the world. If for example there is a repeat of the monkey chants in Montenegro and the match just carries on, it means we have accepted the situation instead of taking a zero-tolerance attitude. That’s why I prefer a senior player or Gareth Southgate to make it clear, they won’t accept racism, no ifs or buts, and they will be walking off if it happens because there is zero excuse for it to be occurring in 2019.
By saying ‘we will see how they feel’, is a line from the PR team pacifying FIFA and not getting the FA into any bother. Why would that be?
They don’t want a fine….
A stadium Ban …….
Points taken away which harm qualification….
In other words, ……… money.
The same reason FIFA only slap sides on the wrist for racism is the same reason England will see how they feel. In reality it’s easier to take the 3 points and go home then do what is the right thing to do. Ironically if no one had said anything nothing would be said, but now our players are under pressure to show how far they will go to fight against this unlawful act, just how much does it disgust them?
Why would this week be any different when this country has turned the other cheek for years? That’s right, as much as we are quick to criticize the likes of Russia and Italy for allowing fans to police their own stadium, what have we actually done to show we will not put up with it? Why didn’t Man City walk off the field when Sterling was caught on TV being abused by Chelsea fans? Why didn’t Auba do the same when he had a banana thrown at him? Why was there not a protest from our media for walk outs?
Imagine Sky Sports coverage being interrupted by players protesting. Why do our press not suggest punishment for fans who have sent racial tweets to the likes of Pogba or Rashford, yet are quick to ask Montenegro to be punished?
Broadcasters would go crazy, it would have an impact on the next TV deal, sponsors would be less keen to back the sport, while it be hard for the Premier League to promote their brand as ‘The best in the world’ if suddenly stadiums were empty or games being disrupted.
That’s why we won’t walk off the field, because in reality we are no different to the like of Montenegro or Bulgaria, we don’t have a zero tolerance towards racism.