I’m not a Manchester City fan, the fact that I’m writing on this site should make that glaringly obvious, but I am a football fan and am more than prepared to give credit where its due.
Over the past few weeks I’ve despaired at some of the things I’ve witnessed in my beloved religion. As a mixed-race lad who grew up in the 80s I’d experienced racism first hand and was pleased that I hadn’t seen it at a football game for quite some time. Then the Luis Suarez/John Terry double whammy exploded. It wasn’t the actions of those two players which sickened me the most, it was the actions of the clubs they played for.
Kenny Daglish’s conduct surrounding the whole Evra/Suarez incident has been beyond belief, ranging from the misguided to the downright offensive. The wearing of the t-shirts in ‘support’ of Suarez, the club’s statement, sorry two statements more or less saying that Evra is lying and that Suarez has done nothing wrong, not to mention the untold amount of comments and statements the Liverpool boss has made over the past few weeks have made me lose any respect I had for a man, who despite not being a fan of have always grudgingly admired not in the least for his conduct as an ambassador for his club, particularly in the wake of the Hillsborough tragedy where his actions were above and beyond the call of duty.
The idea that the racial abuse Tom Adeyemi received and the way Liverpool have handled the entire Suarez affair, are not connected somehow is preposterous. Are we to believe its merely a coincidence that less than a week after Suarez received his ban, a Liverpool fan reduced a young player to tears with racist taunting?
When the Liverpool manager recently stated, following the abuse of Tom Adeyemi: “Over the past few weeks there has been a perception that the football club isn’t doing what it should be doing [to fight racism] but I don’t think the football club would ever go down that road,
“We will always support the official campaigns related to racism. Obviously there was a big issue with Luis.
“The players showed support for Luis, which was fantastic, but then some people interpreted that wrongly as the players saying they’re not interested in the fight against racism. That is totally and utterly rubbish.” I was so shocked i almost laughed.
You simply cannot expect people to belief you’re fully against racism, when one of your players is found guilty of racial abuse and you refuse to even acknowledge he’s done anything wrong.
As for the John Terry affair, again its the club rather than the player -although I’ve got little time for him- who’ve disappointed me the most. There’s been Andre Villas Boas statement that the club will support Terry even if he is found guilty?! Then there was the fans chanting “Anton Ferdinand, you know what you are!” A chant which AVB didn’t hear then refused to condemn when told about it in a press conference.
Now we have Parliament saying they’re going to address racism in football, well whoopee. That’ll soon sort it out, never mind allowing Suarez to continually play the victim, or letting AVB make offensive statements on how he’ll stand by Terry even if he’s found guilty of calling a fellow professional a black c*nt. No, a few MPs discussing it will make everything better.
There’s an old saying “evil prospers when good men do nothing” and racism is nothing if not ‘evil.’ In the wake of both scandals few other managers have been willing to comment on either of them until now. Step forward Roberto Mancini, who dare I say has actually had the decency to make a statement where others would simply cower under the pretence that its ‘got nothing to do with them.’
In his press conference ahead of the Carling Cup clash with Liverpool Mancini stated:
“Sometimes a situation like this can happen on the pitch but it is important to apologise for what you did. Sometimes, on the pitch, you can do something you don’t want to, because you are nervous, because you don’t think. Everything can happen because you don’t think, because you are tired, because you are stupid, you are young; for many reasons.
“I don’t think Suárez is a racist. But I think he made a mistake, probably, yes. Everyone can make a mistake sometimes. It is impossible that we are always perfect and, after that, it is important to say: ‘I am sorry, I made a mistake, I apologise for this’ and accept the charge.”
Mancini may not have said anything many managers weren’t already thinking but at least he’s had the sense of character to address the issue rather than acting like it doesn’t concern him. It pains me to say it but well done Roberto Mancini.