Racism in football is very much back in the headlines.
It is a subject where you always have to tread carefully when talking or writing about it.
However, it is important to keep things in perspective.
You need to identify the problems of today and find solutions, whilst at the same time acknowledge how much things have actually changed over time.
After Newcastle’s home match on Saturday, it turned out there was an ‘incident’…
Luke Edwards writing in the Telegraph:
‘Palace’s win over Newcastle United means the south London club have all but guaranteed their place in the Premier League, but sadly it became just another football match soured by racist abuse as Wilfried Zaha was subjected to ugly taunts on Twitter after the game.
Zaha won the penalty that was dispatched by Luka Milivojevic to earn Palace their seventh away win of the season and then shared an abusive message received from a Newcastle supporter on social media.
Zaha laughed it off, but these sorts of incidents are becoming so frequent, every weekend seems tarnished by them.’
The abuse is pathetic but we have to bear in mind that at the actual match, over 50,000 Newcastle fans were there and they weren’t giving any racial abuse to anybody (to the best of my knowledge), whether they were playing for Crystal Palace or indeed, Newcastle United. Which goes for pretty much any match since whenever.
If you are a hardcore racist, supporting Newcastle United must be pretty tough for you these days, as indeed it must have been for some time. Considering many/most of mine and your heroes would fail any kind of daft racial superiority test.
I doubt the person guilty of racism on this occasion was even at the match and the reality is that his/her behaviour couldn’t be influenced/restricted by other Newcastle fans when doing this abuse, as instead they are sending it out via the often sad and isolated medium of social media.
This isn’t to excuse the action(s) but this is more to do with society today and especially the use and abuse of social media, where so many people seem to think they can be as disgusting and outrageous as they like, without any repercussions.
However, with this happening now on social media, there is a trail, so it is simply about tracking down this one and other perpetrators and making examples of them. Educating people with a carrot and stick that this is not acceptable.
Social media accounts for seemingly most of the racist incidents we see involving football, although there have been a number of issues at actual matches as well.
There is no room for complacency but it is also important to acknowledge the changes in the UK over many years, thanks to brilliant charities such as Kick it Out and the north east’s very own Show Racism the Red Card (SRtRC).
The biggest incidents we see now are when England play away in countries such as Montenegro and others, with widescale abuse of England’s black players.
This was England back in the 70s and 80s, including at St James Park.
Thousands of people joining in with racist chants, mostly because they knew no better. It was just what you did when you went to football and it reflected how a lot of people lived their lives outside of football.
When England play in Montenegro or wherever and are subjected to that overwhelming racial abuse, it would be very naive to believe that this behaviour only applies to football matches in those countries.
No simple or easy answer but people have to be pursued and prosecuted when there is racial abuse at and around matches in the Premier League and elsewhere, including those who do it on social media.
Whilst at the same time charities such as SRtRC and Kick it Out need full support to keep on educating people, especially the football fans of the future.
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