Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Is Football Racist ? BBC documetry with Clarke Carlisle

Racism has never been higher on the football agenda with with Luis Suarez and John Terry both hitting the headlines this year, along with the well publicised problems with the nations hosting the European Championships.

I do not condone racism or discrimination of any kind, and I think that the more TV discussion shows of this sort that bring these issues into the open the better. Hopefully, these shows and the subsiquent ground swell of opinion against racist chanting and behaviour will give 'normal' fans the moral courage to confront the undesirable elements at football matches and show them up as the small-minded bigots that they are.

As interesting and thought provoking as I thought this show was, I do feel that racism is not entirely football's problem, it is primarily societies problem, and this facet of the racism issue was not really explored at any length. I thought interviewing John Barnes at the 'International Slavery Museum'  was an interesting and slightly unnecessary location choice, although this was followed by a segment speaking to the comedian Ava Vidal where there was some discussion of the wider problem of an  'unconscious racism in society' and that 'football reflects society', but no investigation as to where the root of societies racism comes from.

The christian church condoned slavery, and indeed set about it's missionary work in Africa with barbaric zeal in its efforts to forcibly convert slaves to christianity before setting sail for the New World. It is therefore something of a mystery to me why so many American black activists who are campaigning for equality and against the wrongs of the past, such as slavery, do so while also being extremely religious and supportive of the very organisation which directly caused  the misery and suffering of the past.

But I digress. As somebody who grew up in a part of the country with very little ethnic diversity the first black player I really took an interest in was Mark Walters at Glasgow Rangers.

I didn't support Rangers, but I remember Mark Walters being something special and somebody my Dad would get excited about watching. I also remember that he suffered an astonishing level of racial abuse, but thankfully....well hopefully... most of society has now changed for the better and that would be unthinkable these days.

Mark was unusual in Scottish football at the time, and I have to say today, many years on, for the most part football fans are now generally colour-blind when supporting their teams, and that has to be a healthier situation.

But as Clarke Carlisle points out in the documentary, we are not there yet,  and you have to ask why there are not more black football managers and more British-Asian football players in our game. Highlighting this issue will hopefully lead to change and perhaps as the UK becomes more secular and atheist there will be less religious based discrimination and we will see a more level playing field for black, Asian, homosexual and female footballers.

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