But this seems to have been delivered through its Premier League Primary Stars programme, and whilst embedding principles of diversity and equality in the youth is essential work for long-term change, it doesn’t actually tackle the live issue of adults who are abusing players. What is also needed is an effective education project for adults.
Rashford and Saka pull out of England squad
26/03/2021 AT 18:36
Additionally, it seems counterproductive to be working alongside the police when the entire movement of Black Lives Matter is centred on police brutality towards black people. When our own police have questions to answer towards the disproportionate targeting of BAME people within the criminal justice system, this betrays a tone-deafness to the issues at hand.
For footballers, it does not even have to be about race for them to end up being pilloried. Raheem Sterling is regularly traduced for the crime of existing, and has previously been hauled up for the perceived sin of buying his mum a house. Marcus Rashford has been the only meaningful opposition to the Conservative government in the pursuit of feeding hungry children, and one only needs to look at his social media mentions to see the utterly vituperative attitude on display towards him.
There was an opportunity for the Premier League to perform lasting civic education. Clubs are meant to be there for their communities, and while they are not there to tell people what to think, they do have a duty to improve the lives of those in their local area, if they want to use the reflected authenticity that comes from fans attending matches. Fighting racism is such a chance
Instead, it seems some clubs wanted the cachet of an easy win of taking the knee. It’s one gesture, over briefly. It requires no investment or moral reflection. The grunt work of explaining why it is necessary has been passed over to players. They might be the driving force behind the movement but they should not be made to justify their own self-evident humanity.
Look at the frustration of Zaha and the almost deliberate misreading of what he said. Zaha said taking the knee felt “degrading” and has now decided to opt out of the gesture. It is easy to understand why Zaha feels that the moment has passed and this is now quickly appearing to be a shallow movement. His comments that taking the knee felt “degrading” was a sign of his own ignorance on the history of the gesture, an ignorance that the Premier League could have addressed when making the decision to make kneeling a feature of pre-match activities for the season.
This is what appears to have caused Henry to absent himself from social media in protest. He states he will not return until there is accountability from social media companies on the abuse that is allowed to run rampant. This is a tactic that has been tried many times, almost always unsuccessfully. Attempts to boycott social media have largely failed because the demands have failed to tap into the issue at hand.
On Twitter, it is far easier to be banned for copyright breach or general swearing than it is for racially abusing someone. It’s easier to be banned for posting a clip of Wilfried Zaha scoring a goal than it is for racially abusing him.
One way that this could be tackled is to overhaul Kick It Out. The pittance it receives in funding necessarily limits the scope of its interventions and effectiveness, something that now feels almost deliberate. What better way to maintain the veneer of respectability by establishing an anti-racist body and then refusing to give it the tools to operate properly. Clubs could pay a percentage of profits or turnover into the scheme, or the FA or Premier League could divert a significant amount of their corporate jolly expenditure towards doing something its players – the real drivers of profit – actually want and need. Kick It Out should also have the credibility, expertise and permission to investigate clubs and the league itself over matters of racism and discrimination.
There is a reckoning in society to have an open discussion about the stain of racism, but it is one that will not be over in a season, and it will not be limited to football. The people who need to engage properly with this are the ones who hold much of the power and as much of the apathy. Henry’s frustration is understandable, and his boycott is in many ways admirable, but unless there is further, concerted and orchestrated resistance from those within football and the fans who suffer from similar abuse, those in positions of power will have the ability to ignore it as usual.
World Cup Qualification UEFA
Try telling Ollie Watkins that match was pointless – The Warm-Up
26/03/2021 AT 07:33
World Cup Qualification UEFA
England score five to thrash San Marino
25/03/2021 AT 18:40