Reading Football Club striker Jason Roberts has continued his protest against football authorities who, he claims, are not doing enough to tackle racism in the sport. In Reading’s latest match he continued to refuse to wear a Kick It Out anti-racism T-shirt, a move that started back in October, and joined by the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Micah Richards, Joleon Lescott and other black players.
The action was in part due to a number of incidents involving black players and what was believed to be tame responses from football authorities. Chelsea captain John Terry received a four match ban for using racist words towards a black player, QPR’s Anton Ferdinand. Liverpool’s Luis Suarez, however, was the recipient of a much longer ban, 8 games, for pretty much a similar offence – an inconsistency that rankled with black players.
Meanwhile, other incidents involving Islamophobia have not attracted as much attention as incidents involving black players. One incident involving an Egyptian striker playing for Middlesbrough, Mido, quickly came and went, and similarly with TV pundit Gary Linekar describing a prostrating Muslim player as ‘eating grass’.
Racist incidents combined with perceived tame responses from football authorities have led black players talking of forming a breakaway organisation – the Black Players’ Association – in response.
The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) has criticised the move as ‘divisive’ and responded with a six-point plan to tackle the problem as well as other issues in the hope of stopping the breakaway group…which makes an interesting reading.
Though the plan is in response to racism involving black players and the hope they won’t form a breakaway union, one would assume (or hope) that the points apply to all racist incidents involving black players and non-black players alike, and to include white players in the event they suffer racist abuse.
But the impression given by the six-point plan, especially points three and four, is that this is focussed towards black players. Read point six again – are Islamophobia, homophobia, anti-Semitism and prejudice towards disabled people somehow lesser in severity than racism directed towards black players? This is exactly the impression the PFA’s six-point plan is giving readers, especially when starting point six with the words “not to lose sight of”. And it is this lack of importance given to issues such as Islamophobia that has led organisations such as MPACUK to launch initiatives to raise awareness of it through Stop Islamophobia Week.
So perhaps the PFA can look forward to more breakaway unions? Each looking after the concerns of Muslim players, homosexual players and others.
Originally published at MPACUK
- Racist players ‘should be sacked’ (bbc.co.uk)
- Rio and Anton Ferdinand statement: Brothers slam FA and PFA for handling of racism in football (thesun.co.uk)
- PFA announces anti-racism initiative (soccernet.espn.go.com)
- Jason Roberts forces PFA to issue six-point action plan on racism (guardian.co.uk)
- Roberts would shake Terry’s hand (bbc.co.uk)
- Roberts to continue ´Kick It Out´ protest (soccerway.com)
- Gordon Taylor: if we are not careful this racism row will set us back years (telegraph.co.uk)