Did it ever go away?
The high profile John Terry court case certainly managed to get the subject back on to the front pages of the national newspapers. The incident involving referee Mark Clattenburg moved things on to a whole new level.
Both incidents, which coincidently involved Chelsea, were handled in a totally different manner.
The Mark Clattenburg allegations resulted in him being suspended from officiating in games while the investigation ran its course. The decision was fitting and proportionate; exactly the kind of scenario that any other individual, in any other walk of life, would have faced in the same position.
Being suspended from ones place of work while your employer’s and the Police carry out an investigation into such allegations may be common place for most but not for John Terry.
Chelsea, his employer’s, did not cover themselves with glory during the course of both incidents. Their decision making smacked of self-interest rather than moral obligation; hiding behind the “innocent until proven guilty” defence just does not wash. It merely reinforces the view that they have more important issues to deal with than trivia like racism.
There was also a disparity in the punishment that Terry was given by the Football Association and the punishment given to Luis Saurez; there certainly does not appear to be any coherent plan in place for dealing with the race issue.
So, if the Club’s and the game’s administrators do not want to take the issue seriously, what is there to do?
The “Kick It Out” campaign group have come in for recent criticism, mainly for not being more vocal. A number of prominent players protested against the group by not wearing the official T- shirts during the warm up before recent games. Sir Herman Ouseley has always been candid in his assertion that the group holds no real power; does this make it a valid subject for vilification?
The Society of Black Lawyers appear to have made a play at filling the void. They have been very vocal in a number of areas recently; they were prominent in highlighting the Terry issue, they accused Chelsea and the Football Association of trying to cover up the Clattenburg furore, they even had a dig at Tottenham supporters for referring to themselves as “Yids”, a slang Jewish term. Bearing in mind Tottenham have a very long and proud association with the local Jewish community the comments did not go down too well. One prominent newspaper questioned what their next target would be; maybe a complaint against Stoke City fans for singing “Delilah” because it condones violence against women. Taking a scattergun approach just to help build a profile will do no good in the long run.
Anyone who listens to 606 when travelling back from games will know that Justin Roberts is a big fan of having the Rooney Rule adopted when clubs appoint coaching staff and managers. The Rule derives from American Football; it stipulates that a quota of ethnic minorities must be interviewed for all vacant coaching positions. It is an example of Affirmative Action and dates back to 2003. With the life expectancy of most football managers being measured in weeks and months rather than years the implementation of the rule could make matters considerably worse not better
Hopefully recent events turn out to be a minor aberration, somehow I doubt it; I hope I am wrong.
Regardless, the struggle for true equality continues. The important thing for everyone to consider is the importance of moving forward with one voice; no amount of self interest groups will make the situation any better.