James Lawton: Layers of cynicism obscure drive to rid game of racism

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The Independent Online

Gary Neville's rent-a-quote reputation, let's face it, has been hard earned. But this week his wolf cries carry a rare resonance.

Gary Neville's rent-a-quote reputation, let's face it, has been hard earned. But this week his wolf cries carry a rare resonance.

He is right to question the motivations of Nike in its much-hyped campaign against racism, one which has carried a vast potential for publicity and, it is reasonable to suspect, some operating profit.

This may be disputed hotly by the manufacturing giant, quite as keenly as its rebuttal of claims down the years that the empire has been built on the backs of Third World cheap labour.

But then nothing is simple in the landscape of today's sport. Some question the basis of Neville's protest. Could it be significant that he and his team-mates, Roy Keane and Paul Scholes, who were also ignoring the Nike campaign, are, unlike Patrick Vieira and Rio Ferdinand, from another firm's stable?

Here, no doubt, cynicism is built in layers, but then it does remind you of the old truth that just because you are paranoid doesn't mean that the world isn't out to get you.

Innocence, even a matter as delicate as the need to rid football of racism, doesn't come easy. But then how could it?

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