It’s good to see the Football Association (FA) supporting campaigns against racism. And it’s good to hear football bosses speaking out against the horrific racism at England Under-21’s last match against Serbia.
But their words ring hollow when they tolerate racism from top players in Britain. Both Liverpool’s Luis Suarez and, especially, Chelsea’s John Terry received token punishments for racially abusing other players on the pitch.
So when the FA tried to prove its anti-racist credentials by using the Kick It Out campaign last weekend it added insult to injury. It asked players to wear Kick It Out T-shirts.
Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand—whose brother Anton was racially abused by Terry—called for black players to boycott the FA’s call. Others have since spoken out in Rio’s support, including Anton’s manager Mark Hughes and Wales goalkeeper Jason Brown.
Campaigns like Kick It Out have been important in making racism less acceptable in football. But they shouldn’t be used as a cover for the FA’s lack of action. And black players have every right to be angry about that lack of action.
When racism is openly tolerated at matches watched by millions, it has a far-reaching effect. We should strive for unity against racism. But that shouldn’t come at the cost of keeping silent in the face of injustice.