Handshakes and t-shirts won’t help eradicate racism from football.

Posted on February 11, 2012 by

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The recent controversy surrounding racism in football won’t have escaped even the most casual football fans. And while the debate swings into arguments surrounding captaincies and handshakes, it appears this multicultural, largely tolerant nation is missing the big picture: racism still haunts football.

Today’s game between Manchester Utd and Liverpool was centred around the behaviour exhibited by Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra, the ‘will they/won’t they’ argument and the inevitable booing employed to certain degrees by both camps. In the end, Evra did, Suarez didn’t and Evra spent a while atop the moral high ground, that is until he rather unsportingly celebrated a fairly routine win with great alacrity. Suarez didn’t respond.

Scarily, though, there is a feeling that racism has been apparent only in the last few months, since John Terry allegedly racially abused Anton Ferdinand and Suarez was found guilty of racially abusing Patrice Evra. Terry’s case enters into a civil courtroom after the European championships in the summer, sparking a response from the FA who decided to strip John Terry of the captaincy. Of course debate ensued, but the alleged racism displayed by Manchester United and Liverpool fans that followed these high profile and completed cases cannot be solely attributed to the actions of two high profile footballers.

The baffling t-shirt debacle started by Liverpool’s unrelenting support of Louis Suarez did nothing but set a bad example to younger liverpool fans. It was not only a PR disaster, but also a distraction from the real issue at hand.

Surely the focus should be on the level of racism displayed on the top flight of English football. Make no mistake, racism hasn’t increased in football recently due to a couple of high profile instances. Rather, racism has been closely scrutinised as a result of those cases.

Whilst the FA made the correct decision regarding the England captaincy (a multicultural country cannot be led by a man under investigation for racism) they should be perhaps focusing on the level of racism that still exists, and furthermore, being active in locating and eradicating racism in lower leagues – leagues which don’t have the luxury of multiple cameras to spot it when it happens.

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Posted in: Football