Racism in football never quite goes away. You start to think that it may have gone away but it just takes one idiot to start doing a monkey chant and it rears its ugly head again. This weekend saw the ‘Kick It Out’ campaigns awareness day that was boycotted by a number of players from a number of clubs. I was actually at the Liverpool v Reading and during the warm up Jason Roberts refused to wear the campaigns T-shirt, this was replicated through out the country with the Ferdinand brothers, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Nedum Onouha, Sylvain Distin and Victor Anichebe all boycotting the campaign.
I really can see why they feel disenchanted with the anti-racism approach that the governing bodies have taken in the most recent cases. Louis Suarez received a £40,000 fine and an 8 match ban and John Terry was given a fine of £220,000 and a four match ban. When you consider that both of these players earn £100,000+ a week these penalties don’t seem appropriate.
Perhaps the worst case of all is the handling of the Serbia v England under 21 match. The Serbian crowd used monkey chants and other racist actions to generally abuse the England players. It got so bad that Danny Rose kicked the ball into the crowd and what happened he got a red card for his trouble. By all accounts the Serbian players weren’t much better than the crowd. So what was the penalty? £16,000 fine and just to rub salt in the wound the England team has had sanctions against them as well.
When you quantify it like this it’s really not hard to see why players are choosing to boycott the campaign. It’s not the sentiment behind Kick It Out! It’s the actual enforcement of the principles, the sanctions that have been doled out in the last few months really don’t give a zero tolerance impression.
To me tougher sanctions are needed. Firstly if you’re going to use financial penalties they really have to make it hurt. Make the fine they receive relative to their weekly wages. So if they get £100,000 a week take X number of percent of it away from them. The bans also need to be a hell of a lot longer, the Premier League lasts 38 games plus the domestic cups and European competitions. This means the season is well over 60 games. So single figure bans really don’t have any affect, it’s more like a rest than a punishment.
To address a situation like the Serbian FA they need to take an even more tough line. It’s one thing for an individual player to say something offensive but to see and entire team backed by its crowd racially abusing black players is even worse. To me £16,000 for a national FA is nothing. Now if we excluded them from international competitions then I really think they would sit up and notice. In my opinion Serbia should have been given a 2 year ban from all competitions. After that if it happens again we increase the length and so on.
This really would hit the FA’s (and clubs because you could role this out on a national level) because what kind of sponsors are going to give money to a team that isn’t playing any games setting aside the fact they’ve been charged with racist behaviour. Racism is abhorrent and shouldn’t be tolerated on any level. The governing bodies really do have to take a harder line with offenders or risk tarnishing the image of the beautiful game forever.