The Malky Mackay allegations raise the spectre of Britain's casual racism

If the claims are true, the manager should leave football for good

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Will Malky Mackay and Iain Moody be allowed to work in football ever again? As far as I’m concerned, that should be in doubt, if the claim that they sent offensive messages turns out to be true. The shocking series of alleged text messages and emails  reportedly dating from when Mackay was the Cardiff City manager and Moody his head of recruitment, if proven to have been sent by them, could result in a charge of aggravated misconduct from the Football Association, but in my view that would be a whopping great understatement, and the only fitting punishment for “misconduct” of that kind would be a lifetime ban. How likely is that? Not very, I’m afraid.

Crystal Palace, who are looking for a new manager, had been considering Mackay but are doing so no longer. Moody was their director of football until his resignation today. And other clubs in need of a manager may look elsewhere than Mackay whilst the FA investigation continues.

What’s particularly shocking is that Mackay was a manager of great promise who was surely destined to eventually take charge of one of the big club. Sir Alex Ferguson was his mentor and he was widely respected.

The detail in the alleged communications is truly horrible; Asian players are “Fkn chinkys”; a football agent is dismissed with the words “Go on fat Phil. Nothing like a Jew that sees money slipping through his fingers”; an official at another club is described as a “gay snake”; a female agent’s client is emailed with the words “I bet you’d love a bounce on her falsies”; a French agent sends a list of his roster of players, provoking the response “he needs to rename his agency the All Blacks”; a picture is emailed of a “Black Monopoly” board with every square labelled “Go to jail”. If the claims are true, what Mackay and Moody should do for the good of football is to announce their immediate and permanent retirement from the game.

If the content of the messages is genuine, then beyond football, the affair is a useful snapshot of where we are with casual-but-vicious racism in Britain today: it’s still alive and well, and as casually vicious as it ever was (not to mention casual-but-vicious sexism and casual-but-vicious homophobia).

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I remember all too well the 1960s and 1970s, when my racist stepfather thought it amusing to hand round grubby, xeroxed cartoons featuring characters named Sambo and Rastus. I’d naively imagined those days had all but disappeared, that we’d travelled a fair way down the road to true equality in race, gender and sexuality – in which not just the law and our institutions are free of such vileness, but the insides of our heads, too.

The full facts will be established by the FA investigation but if they are as bleak as the reports claim, it is surely a clear indication that we have a considerable distance to go before we can really think of ourselves as a tolerant, open society. In which case the shocking episode may have unwittingly done us a favour.

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