Banana Skins On The Pitch

Racism is the new black’ quipped Bob Mortimer on the now (disgracefully) defunct Shooting Stars earlier this year. And how right he was. November’s press has been dominated by the ‘resurgence’ of racial prejudices in football. And it is a resurgence of sorts. We were led to believe that the problem was successfully eradicated sometime around 2001 alongside Michael Barrymore’s promising party planning venture.

But in truth, behind the scenes work has continued in earnest to fight the issue. The Kick It Out campaign challenges discrimination, whilst Nike’s (well marketed) Stand up, Speak Up movement raised awareness for a generation. Progress has also been made by individuals and clubs in the community (Charlton Athletic’s Red, White and Black day amongst many examples).

But now Sepp Blatter, alumni of the fabled Prince Philip School of Diplomacy, has served to ignite the debate fully, following on nicely from the recent racial allegations surrounding Luis Suarez and John Terry.

Blatter, the 75 year old middle class gaff-prone head of FIFA (previous hits include ‘Hot Pants for Lady Players’ and worldwide hit ‘Don’t Be Gay In Qatar’), recently said that any on-the-field racial abuse should be forgotten with a friendly hand shake. Naturally, this caused outrage in Britain (though notably European reaction has been considerably more calm…)

It’s just banter!’ is effectively FIFA’S party line it seems. On Friday Blatter, presumably on his way to a meeting with Big Ron Atkinson over the vacant job in FIFA PR, claimed he was ‘sorry but will not resign.’ He then played the ‘my black friend’ card as he was pictured with fellow FIFA-ite Tokyo Sexwale (real name ‘Fuckfish’).

Perennial own-goal scorer Sepp is however not the main story here.

The incompetent misogynistic Swiss is merely the head of football; any misjudged, misinterpreted (or even truly held) beliefs that he may have are consequently rendered irrelevant. He can’t prevent racism. The real problem is grassroots. And it is obviously not exclusive to the football pitch.

Mindless naivety and ignorance can be seen and heard across the land; on any street corner, in any pub or most pertinently in any classroom. Pompous Pink Floyd once proclaimed ‘We don’t need no education.’ They were wrong of course. (Although logic does suggest that there must be a dark side of the moon…)

And yet this whole furore is in danger of sidestepping this most serious of problems by presenting bungling Blatter as a scapegoat. We’ve come along way in Britain from the days of John Barnes getting part of his 5-a-day free from the Kop; and we can’t afford to brush this under the carpet like we did the Summer Riots.

But, most importantly, if we simply have to sidestep this; if we have absolutely no choice in the matter, then surely John Terry must be destroyed. The drumbeating flag-waving Battersea dog that is John Terry. John Terry who used ‘poppy-gate’ to divert attention from himself. John Terry who was livid that FIFA banned Swastika’s on kits to remember his brave. John Terry who looked so comfortable against Sweden; a team almost exclusively comprised of Aryans. John Terry who laughed as he raped Wayne Bridge. John Terry who killed Steven Lawrence. Allegedly.

Who would have thought you could create satire with football eh? Next time I will be comparing the Journeyman Striker’s struggle to be signed and accepted with the plight of people trafficking. Back of the net.