Peter Herbert: Chelsea did the right thing reporting the referee

 

I think it is rather sad in this day and age that you put in a complaint about an alleged hate-crime and just because it happens to be a referee and happens to be football, people are saying it cannot happen. People said the same about John Terry and Luis Suarez.

They don't seem to understand that what happens in football is part of society, and if football will not put its house in order – which it clearly has not – then lawyers and activists have every right to have these matters investigated properly. Let us be clear that we are not siding with any club, individual or group and not passing comment on the likelihood of what Mark Clattenburg may or may not have done.We didn't make the accusation, but the comments on Friday by Arsène Wenger, Sir Alex Ferguson and others show that football is quite happy to sweep the issue under the carpet.

It is also ill-advised when there is a criminal investigation to seek to pass judgement on a person you don't know. A first-year law student would tell you that. It is surprising that, with all the resources they have available, these managers do not think before they speak and get some legal advice themselves. They will look very stupid if something is proven at the end of the day, and their comments are irrelevant and wholly unprofessional.

At the end of the day managers become part of the problem, with a culture of burying heads in the sand, saying this can never happen and failing to see the impact it has on wider society.

Football has not addressed racism properly and not penalised it properly. The punishment for Terry and Suarez was derisory, and if you were employed elsewhere you would be lucky not to be sacked for gross misconduct. The FA need to have at least a six- or 12-month ban for any act of racial abuse. Otherwise, it means that to be racist in football is perfectly affordable. The bottom line is that football has to learn some hard lessons.

Peter Herbert is from the society of black lawyers

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