A week or so ago, I blogged about the issue of racism in the wake of the awful events in Serbia and quoted quite a lengthy passage from my own book Kicking Off.
As a consequence, I’ve actually been reading various sections of it over the last few days and am increasingly astonished –and not a little saddened- by how much of it is still current.
Now one of the charges I make in the book is that Kick Racism and the various anti-racism incarnations allied to football were starting to sit back on their laurels and had instead, become little more than a gravy train onto which all kinds of people were jumping.
Ironically, I was attacked fairly strongly at the time for saying that and yet here we are, over eight years later having the very same discussion. Although this time the accusation is actually being made by the players as opposed to some know-it-all git of an author and as a result is quite rightly receiving widespread support.
And it’s not just Kick Racism who have fallen into the post-John Terry/Serbia spotlight either. Thanks to players such as Jason Roberts and the Ferdinand’s, both the FA and the PFA are in the process of being given a massive and long overdue kick up the arse for their clear failure to take the matter of racism as seriously as they should have been in recent years.
This is all good and very positive stuff. We as the nation which gave the game to the world have a duty to champion the ideal of unity in football not just on our own shores, but across the globe. After all, we can’t rely on anyone else to do it. One only need look at the derisory fines metered out by UEFA and FIFA to see that. Don’t get me started on Blatter.
Yet amongst all this positive stuff has appeared a huge potential negative and that is the idea of a Black Players Union.
Now, I’m sure there are very good reasons why this is a good idea although in truth I have no idea what they might be –personally I have this pegged as little more than some oily little chancers idea to make an awful lot of money and raise his profile to previously unimaginable levels. However, that’s another debate altogether- but there are two very powerful ones why it is an extremely bad one.
The first is the obvious one and it’s the case that everyone is fixating on. For as I stated above, anti-racism is about unity. So if unification is the ultimate aim, why bring in something that by its very definition is divisive?
The second reason is less obvious and it’s certainly not one that’s been mentioned anywhere that I’ve seen, heard or read. That is the kick in the teeth it would give to the fans.
Because in the battle against racism at football, the foot soldiers are those who sit or stand on the terraces. We after all, are the ones who support, complain, highlight and when required, confront. Without us, there would be no Kick Racism out of Football. That is a fact.
And the reason we get involved is because we’re all in it together. Fans, players, clubs, media, everyone. A black players union would smash that idea at a stroke because they would be going it alone and we would suddenly be fighting not with them, not even alongside them, but for them. That puts a very different slant on things.
But just as importantly, it would infer that all of our efforts have not only been wasted, but are unappreciated. That might sound dramatic, but it’s certainly how I feel and I know from my inbox, Facebook and Twitter accounts that I’m not the only one.
Yes, there are problems and it is to their credit that a umber of black players are standing up and speaking out. But their fight is not with us, it’s with the union and the authorities and it’s a fight that they must take to them under the same banner as the one we fight under.
Because if they don’t, it could very easily backfire. Not only quickly, but badly.
Kicking off is just 99p to download on both Amazon and iTunes. Which is, I have to say, something of a bargain!