The hiring of the comedian Reginald D Hunter to perform at English football’s gala awards dinner has been branded a “huge mistake” after the American performer sprinkled his set with liberal use of the word “n*****”.
Hunter, a long-term British resident and regular on Have I Got News For You, began his act at the Professional Footballers’ Association awards on Sunday night by explaining that he used the word “n*****” frequently in his set.
After admitting he knew very little about football, he went on to use the word to refer to the Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, triggering a huge intake of collective breath.
Suarez was ruled by the Football Association to have racially abused the black Manchester United defender Patrice Evra during a Premier League match in October 2011 and subsequently banned for eight matches and fined £40,000.
As the world of football and beyond rounded on the PFA for booking Hunter, the Georgia-born comedian remained silent on the subject on Monday.
He was said by The Independent’s Sam Wallace, who attended the event at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London’s Mayfair, to be the “on the edge… the right man albeit at the wrong event at the wrong time”.
On Monday Lord Ouseley, the chairman of Kick It Out, the anti-racism in football campaign, demanded an explanation over the booking of Hunter. “I’m surprised there wasn’t a mass walkout,” he said. “It almost begs the question why does Kick It Out bother?”
PFA chairman Clarke Carlisle said he thought the organisation had made a mistake hiring Hunter but refused to criticise the content of his set at the awards ceremony. He said Hunter’s comments would be acceptable at a comedy club – where “moral compasses” were left at the door – but not at the gala awards ceremony.
“I thought we made a huge mistake,” Mr Carlisle said. “I thought with everything that we have gone through over the last few years, using a comedian of his type was a bad error in judgement.
“I was embarrassed sat up there throughout and I want to apologise unreservedly to the footballing community that was present.”
But the PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor attempted to play down the furore. Asked whether the booking had been an error, Mr Taylor answered: “No, no, don’t be silly.” He added: “I think there were a few raised eyebrows over the comedian but that is the sort of thing you can’t control. It was unfortunate.”Reuse content