MUCH condemnation has been rightly poured over the actions of Chelsea fans videoed on a Paris Metro station dishing out racist abuse to a black man trying to get on the train.
The actions of these yobs is a disgrace and embarrassment to the game, Chelsea and all English football fans. There is absolutely no excuse for what they did, not even the notion they were highly likely to be stuffed full of alcohol.
Investigations have already been started with the Met Police assisting their French equivalents looking into the matter. The West London club have also expressed their anger at the behaviour of the supporters. Once the culprits are identified, banning orders must be slapped on them.
As pointed out by Sepp Blatter this morning, racism has no place in football or anywhere else. But what is the most upsetting thing to come out of all of this is the fact there still is an under current of this ugly problem in the sport.
In recent years, the reputation of English football fans has been improving. Gone are the days where the national team were being threatened with expulsion from major tournaments because of the behaviour of their supporters. The number of incidents and arrests are dropping.
It might be a bit strong to suggest last night’s episode in Paris has completely tarnished this. This was a small section of fans who were acting like idiots. I have friends and family who are Chelsea fans and all I know are just as embarrassed by what has happened at Richelieu-Drouot’s platform. The club has also come a long way from the days where it was known as one with a hooligan problem.
However, the abuse has brought to light the issue is still there in football. What is sad is it probably never going to disappear completely. All we can do is continue not to tolerate it and hope it does vanish eventually.
How can football change it’s culture to make things better? The big wigs have been doing all they can to stop racism spreading, but more is needed to be done.
Many critics have pointed at a lack of black or ethnic role models within the game. But this is something I am not so convinced about. Purely on the basis that a large number of players are non-white and the greatest form of role models in the sport are always going to those who playing. As pointed out by many people after the video came to light, six of the 18-man squad representing Chelsea last night were black and on top of that, only two of the team, John Terry and Gary Cahill, were English, so the hypocrisy of the abusers is clear to see.
Should more non-white managers be appointed? Currently there are just three teams out of 92 in the Premier and Football League with black bosses. They are Chris Powell at Huddersfield Town, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink at Burton Albion and Keith Curle at Carlisle United. On top of these, Chris Ramsey has recently been appointed manager at Queens Park Rangers until the end of the season.
This total of four not inspiring and the last name on the list has admitted in an article on Get West London’s website a glass ceiling does appear to be stopping coaching roles going to black men. An idea many have discussed is the Rooney Rule which is used in American Football, which requires all NFL teams to interview at least one non-white applicant for coaching jobs.
If it was introduced, it would have a positive affect. But it is something which should not be needed really. I had the opportunity a couple of years ago to interview Huddersfield’s current boss and then Charlton Athletic manager Powell, when just two black men held managerial roles in the league. He too believed it would be a nice idea, but added it could lead to a odd form of complacency from ethnic applicants. Just because the colour of their skin is different should not guarantee an interview. As Powell pointed out, the best way of getting a job is showing your potential employers that you are the right person for the job. This is how I personally feel too.
Ultimately, what needs to change is the attitudes of people involved in the game. Too many examples of ill-thought comments have lurked around the game in England. There is the case of Terry v Ferdinand, Suarez v Evra, Malky Malkay’s text messages and Dave Whelan’s comments about Jewish people. As I mentioned earlier, things are improving, but one incident alone is one too many.
Realistically, all we can keep doing is banning the thugs spoiling the image of the game and standing up against any abusive behaviour, whether it comes from fans, players or officials. By doing this, football can continue to show there is no place for this type of despicable abuse.
The problem is there still and will not evaporate overnight, but we can all do our best to show we hate the fact it does exist.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : George Thorpe