The ugly stain of racism in football has been the focus of media reports since top Premiership players such a England captain and Chelsea player John Terry and Liverpool player Luis Suarez were at the centre of racism allegations in November last year, but if the football governing body continues to hand out lenient sentences for racism it will probably never be eradicated out of football completely.
In the latest of a serious of football scandals involving racist remarks towards black players since November last year, police have arrested 20-year-old man from Aintree, Merseyside, on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence, after witnesses saw him calling Oldham player, Tom Adeyemi, a ‘fucking black bastard‘, during an FA Cup tie between Liverpool and Oldham on Friday 6 January.
Adeyemi was said to be distraught and received support from Liverpool players such as Steven Gerrard and Dirk Kuyt, nevertheless, this is the second racist incident involving the Liverpool football club.
In November last year Liverpool forward Luis Suarez denied racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra during a match. Suarez’s denials was called into question when the FA called upon two language and linguistics experts.
Evra said that when he asked Suarez why he had kicked the football at him, he responded, “Because you are black.” (Mirrorfootball.co.uk: FA release racism judgement: Evra claimed Suarez said, ‘I don’t speak to blacks’: 31 December, 2011)
A shocked and angered Evra then asked Suarez to repeat what he said to the reply, “I don’t speak to blacks.” When Evra threatened to punch Suarez, the Liverpool player responded in Spanish, saying “Dale, negro, negro, negro”, which translates as “okay, blackie, blackie, blackie.”
Suarez admitted he used the word ‘negro‘, but claimed that the usage was acceptable in his home country of Uruguay, and was part of the language whilst he was growing up. What the FA did not seem to pick up and directly ask Suarez to expain, was why he switched from English to Spanish to use that term towards Evra? Was Suarez cleverly trying to cover racial abuse? There is arguably something to this point.
What the experts did conclude was that Suarez’s references to ‘negro‘ as Evra stated would be seen as a racial term in Uruguay and Spanish-speaking America. However, the language experts also found that if Suarez’s version of events was true, it would not be seen as racist in his home country and Spanish-speaking America. Yet Suarez’s switch to Spanish to say those words to Evra should certainly have raised concerns because it could have proven that he knew if he had said them in English it was clear cut racism.
In the end the FA and language experts had to go on the credibility of both witnesses and said that whilst Evra was calm and consistent, Suarez was contradictory and inconsistent, in particularly with the video footage. He was found guilty of racial abuse and banned from playing for 8 games, and also fined £40,000.
The fine is less than a week’s wages for Suarez and the 8 game ban will not hurt his career at all.
In another incident England captain and Chelsea player John Terry was charged with racially abusing Queens Park Rangers player Anton Ferdinand during a heated confrontation between the two during a match in which Terry is suppose to have called Ferdinand a ‘fucking black cunt‘.
Apparently the police and the Crown Prosecution Service believe that there is enough evidence to pursue the case.
If Terry is found guilty he will face a pathetic £2,500 fine and his England captaincy will be under threat.
FA afraid to really tackle high profile clubs and players
In April 2010, Viv Anderson, England’s first ever black international football player called for tougher fines by the FA on racism after saying that the current fine is “nonsense.” (Read England’s first black international calls for tougher fines on racism in football)
Anderson said that the current £14,000 fine was ridiculous and called for a hefty £1 million fine which he believes will send a strong warning to perpetrators and clubs.
Whether the FA has the leadership to actually impose these kind of fines is debatable, as they seem to be afraid to tackle big clubs and top players when it comes to racism.
Life time bans for so called fans who shout racist abuse would send the right type of message. Season bans for players who use racist terms would send a strong message, but it seems that the FA is not really serious about kicking racism out of football.
John Mann, a Labour MP and Leeds supporter told The Times in May 2009 that not only were racist and religious abuse incidents in football matches within England a problem, there were disturbing levels of racism and religious intolerance at junior and amateur clubs as well as the lower grassroots level of football.
If the FA is not willing to impose hefty fines and bans which will have an impact on a player’s career, we can expect more incidents in the future.
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