John Terry: Is it always racism?
JOHN Terry Chelsea captain, is no longer John Terry England captain. The allegation that Terry racially abused QPR’s Anton Ferdinand caused the FA to strip him of the captain’s armband. The illiberal anti-racist campaign – the ridiculous drive to turn the working classes into overt anti-racists patrolled by – get this – the police – has caused the craven FA to damn Terry.
The man Terry replaced as England captain just happens to be Anton Ferdinand’s older brother, Rio Ferdinand, of Manchester United.
Says Rio Ferdinand:
“I’ve felt like I’ve almost been fooled a little bit over the years. You look back to the days when John Barnes and all the guys who came before were playing, and all the stuff they had to deal with — bananas on the pitch. And I’ve always been somebody who’s championed our country for making great strides. I thought that era was gone. It seems it was just put to one side for a while and now it seems to be coming out a little bit more prominent. I hope it’s just a group of small-minded people who are making it newsworthy and it’ll be stamped out, but there are obviously still great strides to be made.”
Rio’s group of small-minded people are not, one imagines, the anti-racists who seek out racism in dust.
Is it always racism? Why can’t it just be prejudice? Racism is about inequality. Are black players still unaccepted by supporters and clubs? No. Why? Well, society has moved on. Black people have become part of public life. The skills of the black footballers have played a big part in that. It’s hard to spot any racist abuse at the match. It’s the rarity that makes it newsworthy, and the elite’s drive to make anti-racism a default postion that binds the nation. Is Manchester United captain Patrice Evra booed by Liverpool fans because he is black? No. Evra’s booed because he’s the enemy’s captain who played a part in Luis Saurez’s ban. Evra is the victim of old fashioned prejudice.
Are Spurs fans racist – the ones who accosted former Arsenal player Emanuel Adebayor during the club’s Champions League quarter-final match in Madrid with the chant: “Your dad washes elephants and your mum’s a whore.”
Adebayor said it was racist:
“Racists are always there and we can’t do anything to stop it. Players better than me have tried to stop it. It’s not easy.”
Was that chant racist? Wasn’t it just offensive, as it was designed to be?
Lord Ouseley, chairman of anti-racist group Kick It Out, said the song was not racist but had “racial undertones”.
Duleep Llirajah wrote:
Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live he said: ‘If you asked Spurs’ black players if it was something they would find inoffensive if it was sung about them, I think you wouldn’t find a different result….No-one is saying this song is overtly racist. But, clearly it is offensive and it’s about setting standards.’
What are we to make of all this? The Adebayor chant is undeniably offensive as many terrace chants are. But what’s the difference between a racist chant and one with racial undertones? And, more importantly, who decides? Kick it Out evidently sees itself as a football version of the British Board of Film Classification (aka the film censors), deciding whether a chant is racist and to what degree. Judging that the Adebayor chant has racial undertones is a bit like giving a film a PG rating. It’s not X-rated adult racism, just racially insensitive and therefore parental guidance is required.
Adebyaor now plays for…Spurs.
Rio tells the BBC:
“Anton is my little brother. If something is going to hurt him, I am always there to lean on. For my family, yes, it has been tough. He has had to take abuse. I hope people see what effect that has — not just on the actual person but on the people around them as well — and think before they speak.”
There can be no doubting that Anton Ferdinand is an innocent party.
Meanwhile, QPR’s Joey Barton’s twitter account has been spotted by the Attorney General Dominic Grieve QC. Says a spokesman: “The tweets have been brought to our attention and have been viewed.”
Barton said he does not believe Chelsea captain Terry is a racist. Barton adds that Terry should have “admitted his error and taken any punishment on the chin long ago”. Only, Terry denies any wrongdoing. Barton has just called him guilty.
Is Barton in Contempt of Court Act? Have his words prejudiced an active legal case? Did Barton’s tweets carry a substantial risk of seriously prejudicing justice in the proceedings?
And if he’s guilty, what then for the FA, who sacked a man on the strength of an allegation?