Last night during the Champions League game between Chelsea and Genk there was some pretty distasteful chants from a section of the Chelsea crowd about Anton Ferdinand.
Football Business does not intend to repeat the chants here (they are freely available elsewhere if you want to have a look what was said) but we do join Chelsea in condemning it.
A statement from The Blues said: “The chanting was wholly inappropriate and we don’t condone it.”
What I will add, though, that it could have done with Andre Villas Boas condemning it as well, he claimed, in the best traditions of Mangers to have not heard anything as he was “concentrating on the game.”
I am not having that excuse. We all know – and no doubt you have been at games yourselves – when player x or manager y has been urged to “give us a wave” by the crowd and, largely without exception they do. The crowd cheers and the game carries on.
So please, don’t insult our intelligence by claiming not to hear stuff.
That attitude, though, in a way does encapsulate what’s wrong with the attempts to fight racism in the game. It is too easy to claim you haven’t heard stuff – easier certainly than confronting things.
Of course giant strides have been made in the last couple of decades. When I first started going to football in the mid 1980s black players were subjected to some fearful abuse. George Berry – he of the giant afro – famously ate a banana he had thrown at him at Millwall. He also went to remonstrate with a fan who shouted abuse at him on another occasion. Those instances and what I am sure were countless others like them are mercifully rare these days.
The great irony in all of the John Terry/Anton Ferdinand incident that sparked all this off was that it happened in the Kick It Out fortnight of events. Much of the credit for the virtual eradication of racism in the game belongs with the Kick It Out organisation. The campaign – which we are happy and proud to support – has worked tirelessly to champion the cause.
I am sure they would agree with me, though, that the key phrase in the last paragraph was “virtual eradication”. And whilst its unlikely that racism in football – just as in society, which football has always largely reflected – will ever be ended, it certainly will not be while crowds think its ok to sing and chant in the way Chelsea did last night, when the manager “doesn’t hear anything.”
As Edmund Burke once noted: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
It is perhaps something we should remember.