Viv Anderson

Viv Anderson, England’s first ever black international football player has called for tougher fines by the FA on racism after saying that the current fine is “nonsense.”

Viv Anderson, the first black football player to play for England in 1978 has called on the FA to impose tougher penalties on racism referring to the current £14,000 fine as “nonsense.”

Anderson called for a £1 million fine for racism which he said would send a strong message to perpetrators.

Despite the campaign to kick racism out of football, racism still remains deeply embedded within the sport to the extreme that black footballers have threatened to walk off the field if the FA does not deal with the problem.

Anderson believes that the FA has not taken this threat by black footballers seriously and has called for a change in the managerial structure of football which he referred to as run by “a lot of middle-class white people.” (Independent: 15 April)

While the top black footballers such as Thierry Henry, Samuel Eto and Didier Drogba are earning ridiculous amounts of money which may give the impression that football is now an inclusive sport, there is another side to the sport that is greatly under-reported in the media. This side is management.

With the death of Macclesfield football manager, Keith Alexander last month non-white managers in the top flight of the football league are nowhere to be seen.

For a long time black footballers have spoken about the lack of opportunities they face in management as well as the barriers to being appointed at any club.

In 2003 Vivek Chaudhary, the chief sports correspondent for the Guardian wrote, “Anger is growing within the black football fraternity at the lack of black managers and coaches at British professional clubs even though many have the required qualifications and have completed all the necessary coaching courses.”

Former black football players such as Cyrille Regis, Garth Crooks, John Barnes, Luther Blisset and Paul Elliot, all with sufficient coaching skills attended a meeting to address the lack of opportunities for black football managers.

Cyrille Regis said,  “The real power is within management jobs, where you are dictating policy, commanding players and dealing with budgets. There are still questions being asked about black British managers and whether or not they will be able to deal with all this and produce the goods. I have completed all my coaching badges but I think a number of chairmen are still hesitant about appointing a black manager. As players we broke down the barriers by performing on the pitch, now we have to break down the barriers at the management and coaching level.”

The late Keith Alexander said in an article on the MailOnline website, “I took Lincoln into four play-offs running, but I’ve never had a job offer higher up than League Two. You tell me why? I’ve got every coaching badge there is. I can’t do any more. You do feel that you have to prove yourself more, but that’s the same in any walk of life. (Speck: MailOnline: 3 January, 2009)

In May 2009, John Mann, a Labour MP and Leeds supporter told The Times that not only were racist and religious abuse incidents in football matches within England a problem, it had also prevented a generation of British Muslims who cite football as their main sport from participating as fans or professional footballers. Mann also said that there were disturbing levels of racism and religious intolerance at junior and amateur clubs as well as the lower grassroots level of football.

The problem with the campaign for kicking racism out of football is that it deals with racism on the pitch rather than in society which is where the problem stems from. If the FA are really serious about eradicating racism out of football they will take their campaign to the very heart of British society.

Related article: Black football manager and pioneer Keith Alexander dies

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