We have teamed up with a Non-League player who is reporting from inside the game. In the start of this series, he talks about the issue of Racism, which unfortunately is still very prevalent.
Racism is still an issue in Football, it’s as simple as that.
That’s not to say it should have but it will be clear to any player at any level, that you very rarely leave a pitch that contains a black player without a few words being spoken in their direction. These insults, as vicious as they are, are often made in the sanctuary of the changing rooms. That in my humble opinion makes them worse, makes them even more cowardly. However, that is not to say all “racism” is conducted in a vulgar manner, with the intent of causing distress. Although that sounds bad, let me explain. Changing rooms up and down the country will engage in ‘banter’ that will often focus on the ethnicity of the player in question. The term ‘ Black Time’ is common. This comment refers to black players commonly turning up late which is of course a sweeping generalisation. I often ask myself, would this be acceptable in society? No of course not, but then very little conversation that takes place in a changing room is I’m afraid, that’s just football.
The changing room (if you’re lucky enough to have one) is a venue where players often jostle for the position of top dog. This has nothing to do with a player’s ability on the pitch, it is an open playground where only the people with the sharpest of tongues and toughest of skins survive. It’s not restricted to just the colour of the skin either, the ‘training ground’ holds no limits, player’s wives, sisters, sexuality, none of that is off limits. If you can’t handle the banter, you won’t last, regardless of the level.
There is conscious and unconscious racism within Football. Let me explain myself. Conscious racism is the stuff where players are targeted for none other than the colour of their skin. ‘ You Black ‘ ( Insert profanity) is the most obvious example of a mind-set which is slowly fading. This conscious racism will not surprise people, yet the unconscious racism will.
When was the last time you saw a black goalkeeper? Or two black centre halves in the same team? Can’t think of any? That’s because there are very few around. Many people won’t admit to this but the facts are clear to see for anybody who has watched a game of football. Manager’s generally don’t trust black players in positions of responsibility and nor do the players. I know, shocking point but let’s look into that. It’s a point well documented in the The Secret Footballer’s most recent book ‘Access All Areas’ where he states that black players often don’t have the footballing brain to be trusted in areas of high risk. Yes you will see a black player in midfield, but is he really there for his technical ability? The answer will invariably ‘Well no, he’s there because he’s a fucking lump’ or if he’s playing out wide. ‘No because he’s fucking rapid’ Black players are viewed as a liability. Black players are picked for their physical presence rather than their technical ability. In some cases there are exceptions to the rule, but in most cases, they are in there for either pace or power and if you’re fortunate a delicate balance of the two.
Whilst the Kick it Out campaign focusses on tackling “Conscious” racism, I fail to see how we can combat the other type of racism. More needs to be done to educate people and change their mindset. That way, football will be a better place for all.