Well guys, it looks like the 'Kick it Out' campaign is in trouble, black players refusing to wear the charities shirts last weekend, maybe the beginning of the end for anti racism charity. When white players backed the black players by not wearing the shirts it got a little absurd. In fact that gesture seemed the most anti racist of the lot so far. Even though the charity is run by ex black players and does good work across the game it's lost its credibility after the John Terry affair and the fact it's funded by football that would only give the 4 match ban suggests its remit is merely to iron down the racism wrinkles to protect the Premier League brand and its sponsors instead of dealing with the cancer head on. JT called Anton Ferdinand what he did and only fancy lawyer speak saved the Chelsea captains career. How the black players at Chelsea must feel is beyond me, apart from that oddball Ashley Cole, of course, who seems to be an apologist for bigots', even marrying one. The Premier League just doesn't know how to deal with it. They have managed to conceal positive drug tests - for social and sports enhancing - over the decades and so they seem to want to apply the same tactic here to protect the brand. Look how quickly Lance Armstrong and cycling lost its big sponsors once the cat was out of the bag.
I agree with current player Jason Roberts that the 'Kick It Out campaign' seems to be gloss rather than substance, trying to make it all 'go away' so to cleanse the sport that way, perhaps the charity fearful they will lose finding if they don't play ball. Finally, prominent and intelligent black footballers like Clarke Carlisle, Jason Roberts and John Barnes have stopped shouting that something should be done to give black players a bigger voice and started being the ones who actually do something. Martin Luther King didn't look around for someone else to do it. He did it!!! They have a great media platform and trusted voice and have appointed the lawyer who set up the Black Police Association to explore a plan to set up a black players union. The Black Players Union is a very good idea and a great tool to hit back at the FA and FIFA with that power it would bring. Imagine the power of the threat of 27% of the players withdrawing their labor on Saturday or in the Champions League over an incident not dealt with. Serbia's 50 grand fines will become a ten match ban. Make them scared of your voice and spread the fear across Europe and scare Blatter, the ultimate target.
One of the main reasons the black players involved in the plan are calling for the union seems to be affirmative action, the so-called 'Rooney Rule', they say not enough black guys in coaching and management positions in the game because of racism. But I can't agree with that aspect. They are incredibly over-represented in playing staff at 27.7% in the Premier League - reverse racism in some ways as they are 6% of the population - yet just 4% in coaching. The bare fact is that they don't put themselves forward to coach on big enough numbers when they finish playing so to be eventually over represented like the black playing staff. Yep, that percentage may rise if they 'feel' they will be treated equally when going for coaching jobs but surely the fact that one - in - four pros is black means if they went for coaching jobs on mass they would get them? This kind of conundrum mirrors the general pay gap with men and women's salary at 17% in the work place. The pay gap is mostly down to women choosing to have kids and stalling their careers and that money passing to the guy's salary to pay for the kids, be it as a father or increased spending in the economy. 70% of women choose to have kids and a family at one point and most black players choose not to coach. Affirmative action through the union won't change that number much. It's rather ironic that the mumbling Estuary English of Jason Roberts is calling for affirmative action as some would say that's the only way he would get a job with the BBC, not the greatest of pundits to grace the MOTD2 couch! If the BBC didn't run their 15% ethnic quota policy then Gareth Crooks would never have been employed.
One man who is very nervous is Gordon Taylor, the head of the current players union, worried because he cushy number could be affected, earning a mind boggling 700k a year! The Ferdinand boys have come out to say they are not likely to be involved in the muted BPU to calm things down but I know the union will happen now that the lawyers are involved. I would like to see Gordon Taylor pulled down to the lower league player's level where most of his unions work is done. How dare he pull 700k!
In my sport of cricket, racism is rare, purely because we don't set that many home grown black players in the game. At Northants they don't last long and most black guys we have had over the years are overseas guys not too worried about that stuff. No one was going to tell the likes of Curtly Ambrose he is a black so-and-so! He would snarl at the fielders you just for conceding a run. As yet we have never had a British Pakistani play for the county which I am surprised about. Even if something did happen it would be kept in house. In fact when anything controversial happens in cricket it's kept secret. I remember when white fast bowler called Graeme Wagg, who had just come off a six month ban for smoking marijuana, 'gobbed' in the face of our batsmen Rob White, also white, who reported it there and then to the umpire, spit dripping off his helmet grill. The umpire did nothing. How on earth would we ever hear about racism if that cowardice is the official's game? As we saw with Hillsboro and the Jimmy Savile earthquake, authority won't act so to protect their jobs, another reason to start a union.
Its easy for most involved in sport if any conflict is hidden, accept for the victim. Again, we had South African players in OUR team ridiculing OUR star player Monty Panesar in Afrikaans on the pitch. We found that out because one of the county umpires is South African and understands Afrikaans, who passed it on to our coach but not the ECB? Again nothing was done. Nobody wants to deal with it because it exposes the uncomfortable fact that most people are capable of it. Every white person can pull out the 'N' or 'P' word to devastating effect at any time and as long as those words remain as damaging and hurtful as they are there will always be tensions. A Black or Asian sportsman calling you a 'whitey' isn't quite the same and anyone who says that is racism is a moron.
Now, I do get irritated when Asian groups say football is racist as there are very few British Asian players in the game, they say because scouts and managers don't think they are physically up to the game. I'm afraid to say that if they are good enough they will be signed and that's the end of it. The problem with the British Asian is cultural and its family, university or cricket for their boys and if not then they end up driving a cab not playing for United. Why there is such snobbery against football in the Asian culture is rather odd. Not enough Asian families encourage their boys to play football at a professional level. The fact English county cricket has lots of Asian players is proof enough that they are wanted in professional sport.
To me tennis is the sport where you can witness that subtle uncomfortable relationship between the fans and the black players the most. When the Williams sisters make the Wimbledon Final you can feel that hidden negativity and God bless the Williams girls for smiling through it. You just have that uncomfortable feeling that the rather well healed and white middle-class corporate crowd doesn't want to watch two black girls bash the living daylights out of the ball every year , the same people of color that are not that welcome at their private tennis clubs.
Where you don't feel racism is in athletics, perhaps the best sport for multicultural friendships. Big small, black, white, skinny or fat, all sorts at your local club. I honestly believe people that join athletics clubs as they are the best people at mixing. It's a multi social class sport with no snobbery and graduates mix with black postal workers.
A working-class sport I am surprised that doesn't have many black or Asian players is snooker. I think there is just one black guy who has been on live TV, Muslim convert Rory McLeod from Wellingborough ( not Aberdeen!), maybe sneaking on to the circuit because he doesn't have a black guys name. He is lovely lad and plays in a club near me but he was the only black guy on the pro tour in the last ten years until Barry Hearn opened up the sport to all. And I think that is the key to participation to sport by ethnic minorities. They need to see a Tiger Woods face down the perceived prejudices before they a have crack at it whilst white guys and girls don't have the pressure to choose their sport. But when the black guy did pick up the golf club he was the best by far.