Rio Ferdinand was right not to wear the Kick it Out shirt – and he’ll pay for it

The footballer will learn that if you complain about racism, you will suffer the consequences.

Share

Four cheers for Rio Ferdinand.

The  disagreeable Chelsea football captain, John Terry, called QPR player Anton Ferdinand  a “f****** black c***” during a match last autumn and was fined £220,000 and banned for four games. That’s all folks, some pocket money taken and a bit of time off to swig champagne for breakfast.

Anton’s brother Rio, of Manchester United, took on Terry and broke an unwritten rule now firmly instituted in this country: complain about racism and suffer dire consequences. Sayeeda Warsi experienced it when she was deputy chairwoman of the Tory party and spoke out. They banished her to obscurity.

Rio Ferdinand was not picked to play for England suspiciously soon after standing up for his brother. Wounding internet missiles will have rained on his head since refusing to follow orders and don a Kick Racism Out of Football T-shirt to show how fair and fine the game in England is. (It is, only  if compared with Serbia and Ukraine – which isn’t impressive).  Rio’s protest was against “gesture anti-racism” and the abysmally lenient “punishment” meted out to Terry. Furious Alex Ferguson says Rio has embarrassed him and will be dealt with.

But The Kick it Out campaign has hit the rocks. Millwall fans and others too still behave like animals when they watch black players. [See letters, 24 October.) As Jason Roberts, Premier League player for Reading, tweeted: “People expect us ‘to put up with it’. Those days are gone... We DEMAND to be treated with respect... we are not asking...”

Will the demands be heard? I don’t expect so. We are living in times of remarkable complacency as well as rising new racism, the first negating the second with grim determination. Racism is now tolerated and explained away even by many on the left who seem to think “enough already”, just as they do with women’s rights. Britain is such a tolerant society, it even tolerates racism. Nick Griffin has never had it so good, though may lose popularity now that he has offended gays, by asking supporters to protest outside the home of the two men who won a case against a homophobic B&B owner.

"The joyous London Olympics proved ours is a multiracial, winning nation"

 

We have, undeniably, moved on from the bad old days. The joyous London Olympics proved ours is a multiracial, winning nation. However, people use the good news to go into denial about the continuing disadvantage and discrimination, or even worse, blame victims for not being thick-skinned, or smart enough to beat the odds, or for not shutting up for an easy life or bringing their pain on themselves. Racism is redefined in such extreme terms that it leaves out almost all common experiences of racism. No evidence moves sceptical eyes and ears. Research by Professor Yvonne Kelly, of the University of Essex, has found possible links between mothers experiencing racial abuse and the poor development of their children. Another study, last November, proved that courts are much harder on non-white offenders for similar crimes. Asian drug dealers, for example, are 41% more likely to go to prison than white dealers. There has been a decline in the number of reported racist incidents because fewer people are bothering to report the crimes in the present climate. Fewer discrimination cases are taken to tribunal too, I think, because the environment has become so terrifyingly hostile.

The police talk the talk, that’s all. Gurpal Singh Virdi, an exemplary Met Detective Sergeant, won race cases against the force but when departing in May, said the culture was as toxic as ever. A 2012 survey by OnePoll of 2,000 people found one in three admitted to being racist. The Higher Education Statistics Agency confirms that qualified black graduates are much less likely to get jobs than white graduates. If they get jobs they are likely to earn less than their white counterparts.

Yet, we always have to be grateful to be given a chance and not expect equal pay on top. Migrants, asylum seekers and travellers face violent racism and are reproached for angering people by being here and claiming rights. More than 88,000 cases of racist bullying were recorded in British schools this year, an inevitable result of how adults are now behaving towards those they regard as inferior beings.

When the Home Secretary extradited Babar Ahmad, Talha Ahsan and Abu Hamza to America, the country sighed with relief. Abu Hamza is a proven villain but the other two were held for years without charge in a country which claims it honours the rule of law. Ahsan suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, like Gary McKinnon, who, thank God, has been spared the American justice system. Theresa May spoke about McKinnon’s human rights but, it seems, the Muslims have no such rights because they are not “human”. To belong in Britain we must not question these double standards and iniquities.

Many will hate this column and come for me. Let them. When courageous black footballers speak out , the rest of us cannot remain cowed and silent.

y.alibhai-brown@independent.co.uk

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SSRS Report Developer - Urgent Contract - London - £300pd

£300 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: SSRS Report Developer – 3 Mon...

KS1 Teacher

£95 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Key Stage 1 teacher require...

HR Business Partner - Essex - £39,000 plus benefits

£32000 - £39000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Man...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Several police officers walk near downtown Ottawa  

Nigel Farage on the Ottawa shooting: It could just as easily happen on the streets of London

Nigel Farage
Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive  

To improve the NHS, it must stop being a political issue

Mary Dejevsky
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?