Ava Vidal: It is time for the Civil Rights Movement to hit the football pitch

 

So the trial is over. John Terry has been found innocent. It was agreed by all, including Terry himself, that he called Anton Ferdinand a black c**t - but the magistrate held that we couldn’t be sure how he meant it. OK then.

Looking away from Terry, the ugly issue of racism is one that keeps raising its head when we speak about the beautiful game. And it is a very divisive issue amongst fans, players and footballing authorities. Nobody is united on how to deal with it.

Seb Blatter caused outrage last year when he advised victims of racism to just shake hands with their abusers at the end of the game. “Why do we have to talk about racism? Leave it out of football! It’s just a game!” is what is often said to those that complain about it. Though I notice this is directed always to the victims and never to the perpetrators.

Recently Sol Campbell advised black and Asian football fans not to travel to watch any Euro 2012 games because of the chance that they may be victims of racial attacks that may result in serious injury or even death. Many including the family of Arsenal player Theo Walcott took his advice and stayed away.

His comments so outraged some England fans that they expressed their unhappiness by holding a demonstration against him chanting “Sol you’re wrong.”

After England crashed out of the tournament after losing on penalties (yet again) we saw a glimpse of what black players still have to put up with from their so called fans. After Ashley Young and Ashley Cole- one of John Terry’s defence witnesses-missed their penalty shots Twitter was full of racist comments about the two players.

Some of the abuse was so horrifying that many people including myself forwarded the tweets to the police so that they could investigate. England have missed many penalties in many games yet when a white player misses, never is their colour brought into it. I wonder how many of those at the anti-Sol demo were as horrified by this? Even if they were it was obviously not enough to demonstrate about it.

Inspired in part by this case Clarke Carlise explored the issue in a documentary called ‘Is Football Racist?’ I was interviewed as I am a huge football fan and a patron of the charity Show Racism the Red Card.

I have listened with disgust as former players describe what it was like to be the first black players in the big clubs. They faced abuse at the hands of opposing fans and team members. Sometimes they had to endure it from their own fans and even their team mates.

Tales of bananas being thrown on to the pitch, monkey noises every time they touched the ball and one player told me he had lost count of the times that he had been racially abused. 

Fast forward to 2012 and not much has changed. But what can we do about it? As Clarke Carlise found out there is still a reluctance to talk about how extensive the issue is. He found it easy to find contributors from retired players but current players even the high profile ones don’t want to be seen to speak out.

Football is a lucrative but short-lived career and if you stick your head above the parapet then you risk being seen as a troublemaker or someone with a chip on their shoulder. You could be dismissed by management and lose sponsorship deals worth thousands and sometimes millions of pounds.

The footballing authorities must do something about the current situation. At the moment they do not support the victims. UEFA recently announced that any black players that walks off the football pitch during a game after receiving racial abuse shall be given a yellow card. The message they sent is clear-we don’t care enough about you to deal with the racists, but if you try to you’ll be punished.

It is time for the Civil Rights Movement to hit the football pitch. Black players and their team mates need to show a united front and deal with this problem. They must do it for the black fans that want to enjoy the sport, the up and coming black players and the children that look up to them.

They must also do it for themselves. When they tell their grandchildren the story of when a racist threw a banana on the pitch, do they want to tell them they dribbled around it? Or that the person that threw it ended up with a soft yellow suppository?

Any victim of racial abuse should leave the pitch immediately and their team mates should follow. We need to boycott clubs and organisations that refuse to deal with this issue of racism. Once they suffer economic hardship then we will see how quickly they can deal with the issue. And maybe we can show racism the red card once and for all.

Ava Vidal is a comedian and a patron of Show Racism the Red Card.

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

Voices
Left: An illustration of the original Jim Crowe, played by TD Rice Right: A Couple dressed as Ray and Janay Rice
voices

By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen

Arts and Entertainment
music
Life and Style
fashion
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Travel
travel
News
people
Voices
Jules and Delaney
voices
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes