Perhaps it’s because of the internet, and because we’re more connected to events elsewhere than we’ve ever been, but I can’t remember a time when racism in football made as many headlines as it does now.
Last weekend, alone, there were examples of players being subjected to racial abuse in both Scotland and England.
Around Europe it is a cancer.
There is a lot of sound and fury directed at this issue, but not many solutions.
Life bans for those who do it aren’t stopping others.
Fining and sanctioning clubs has not made a blind bit of difference.
Let’s be honest; if you are willing to shame your club to indulge your disgusting prejudices you aren’t the sort who’s going to care if they are deducted points or banned.
The purpose of sanctions is to bring pressure to bear from inside the stands themselves, and it works to an extent, as has been evidence, t0 a degree, at Ibrox where years of deplorable songs in the stands were put into sharp relief the moment UEFA made it clear that these would draw serious consequences.
Things are not so good in Scotland, where Strict Liability has never been adopted, but things are a lot better than they were and that’s a major improvement.
But ridding this stuff from the game entirely looks like a difficult task unless clubs are forced to clear their stands out.
I don’t believe in the healing power of “education” here as much of a weapon either; if you need “educating” that racism is wrong then you’re too thick ever to take the lesson in. Ange was right about this; you shouldn’t need educating on right and wrong.
Furthermore, the game isn’t going to crack this issue whilst people are using it as deflection tactic, and I am convinced that this is exactly what Ibrox has spent the past few days doing. They were beat in the Czech Republic to leave their European record, this season, as one win in six and four defeats. Anything to avoid not talking about that, or the indiscipline of Kamara, who was sent off yet again.
Phony wars on booing now?
Players get booed.
When Frimpong turned out for Leverkusen in midweek he was booed. Racism? Kyogo, in the aftermath of racist singing on an Ibrox supporter bus went to that ground and was booed for the 90 minutes. Racism?
A lot of people are losing the plot here, and I can’t help but think that some of them are purely motivated by a desire to paint Ibrox as the permanent victims they like to be. There was no overt racism in the game the other night; it’s as if they went looking for something to be offended by and the media couldn’t wait to back them up.
The SFA equalities officer has behaved abysmally.
Just a week ago he was making sure than an Irish Republican night was cancelled, although what in God’s name that has to do with him I do not know. He seems to think that his job is to make sure nobody is offended, anywhere, and that’s not the role at all.
The hysteria over that non-incident was motivated by anti-Irish racism; he gave it a leg up instead of telling those ranting about it to get a life.
He couldn’t wait to jump into the Kamara row, with a piece of virtue signalling so calamitous and ill-judged it made a diplomatic incident worse and has led to a foreign government demanding that the SFA issue a retraction and a public apology.
His position is untenable.
He ought to resign immediately, but I remember the SFA standing by ex-Ibrox official Gordon Smith after he made xenophobic remarks about Eastern European players being divers whilst he was chief executive there, so I won’t be holding my breath.
For an SFA official to accuse a whole country of racism … that’s surely too far, but you never know how much those at Hampden are willing to tolerate.
After all, as it seems important to remind people, this was the governing body which hired Malky Mackay when nobody else would after his own history of disgusting, racist remarks.
They might well hang onto Bartley.
If they do, then the Czechs are well within their rights to call them hypocrite for their hiring policies and their own failure to tackle issues on their own doorstep for decades. They would certainly be within their rights to ask why the SFA tolerates xenophobia but not booing.
But that just escalates a situation which is already ridiculously overblown.
None of it will touch the problem at hand, none of it will bring us one step closer to ridding our game of racists in the stands.
But for half a week anti-racism campaigns in Scotland have performed their standard function; they gave cover to Ibrox when it needed it most.
So that’s alright then. One problem solved anyway.